David Seminara's blog

Russian Diplomats Charged with Benefit Fraud

By David Seminara, December 6, 2013

According to the New York Times, and a host of other publications, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, announced on Thursday that he had charged 49 Russian diplomats, including 11 currently in the country and 38 now serving elsewhere, in a $1.5 million Medicaid fraud case. The Times article notes that insurance fraud schemes have been "dominated by immigrants from the former Soviet Union for years", but the fact that this incident involves dozens of diplomats posted in New York and the apparent complicity of the Russian government is a huge scandal. Read more...

Elk Horn, Iowa's Danish-American Community: Assimilation Done Right?

By David Seminara, December 5, 2013

No matter how you feel about immigration, the comprehensive immigration reform debate can be exhausting and stressful. Supporters of legalization are outraged that there's been no legislative progress on the amnesty front and opponents are fearful that politicians will cave in to the demands of the business lobby. No one is happy. Because we're in the midst of the holiday season, I thought it might be a good time to recommend a documentary about an immigrant community that just about anyone can feel good about, no matter where they stand on the issues. Read more...

Rigged Polls That Bolster the Case for Amnesty

By David Seminara, November 26, 2013

On Monday, NPR reported on yet another poll asserting that Americans are clamoring to offer a "pathway to citizenship" for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. The poll, conducted for the Public Religion Research Institute, is an update on an earlier poll that was conducted in conjunction with the Brookings Institution in March. According to both polls, support for what would amount to amnesty for immigrants who broke the law remains strong despite the sluggish economy. Read more...

Does the Case of an Illegal-Alien Murderer Raise Policy Questions?

By David Seminara, October 31, 2013

On Saturday, a 25-year-old Chinese immigrant named Chen Mingdong reportedly went on a murderous rampage in Brooklyn, stabbing to death his cousin and her four children — ages 1, 5, 7, and 9 — in what NYPD officers have described as one of the most gruesome killing sprees in recent memory. He's been charged with five counts of murder. According to press reports, Mingdong is unemployed and lived with the cousin he killed. Read more...

New OIG Report Highlights Rampant Diversity Visa Fraud in Ukraine

By David Seminara, October 28, 2013

A new Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report on the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv (Kiev), released on Friday, reveals "indications of widespread fraud" in the Diversity Visa (visa lottery) program in Ukraine. "Organized fraud rings masquerading as travel agencies have taken control of the Diversity Visa program in Ukraine," the report bluntly states. "They buy, steal, or obtain from public sources personal information about Ukrainian citizens, especially those living in western Ukraine. They use this information to enter these citizens' names in the online Diversity Visa program Web site, often without their permission or awareness." Read more...

Implications of the Baby Hope Case for Immigration

By David Seminara, October 16, 2013

Twenty-two years ago, construction workers found the emaciated, naked body of a four-year old girl in a filthy cooler near the Henry Hudson Parkway in New York City. Neither the child, dubbed Baby Hope by police, nor her murderer were identified until this past weekend, when police arrested Conrado Juarez, a 52-year-old dishwasher from Mexico who confessed to the sexual assault and murder of his cousin, Baby Hope, identified as Anjelica Castillo.

The New York Times reported Monday that relatives of Juarez, who police suspect may also be implicated in other violent crimes, knew he had killed the little girl but didn't speak up because "many were living in the United States illegally." The New York Post went a step further, reporting that Juarez himself is in the country illegally, working as a dishwasher at Trattoria Pesce Pasta in Greenwich Village. Read more...

New Pew Report Confirms Visa Overstays Are Driving Increased Illegal Immigration

By David Seminara, September 24, 2013

A new report from Pew Research's Hispanic Trends Project confirms what many of us have long suspected: Illegal immigration appears to be on the rise again, after a brief decline during the recession. The report estimates that the population of unauthorized immigrants was approximately 11.7 million in 2012, up from 11.5 million in 2011, but down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. Read more...

Stagnant Wages and the Connection to Immigration

By David Seminara, September 19, 2013

New data from the Census Bureau released this week confirm that while the economy is improving, incomes remain stagnant for all but the wealthiest Americans. Read more...

ICE Apologetic for "Rounding Up" Immigrants

By David Seminara, August 22, 2013

ICE agents conducted raids on a 16-location car wash franchise called Danny's Family Car Wash in Phoenix last weekend, arresting 14 people and ultimately releasing 179 of the 223 people who were detained for questioning. The New York Times reported that most of the 223 employees who were detained are in the country illegally. An ICE spokesperson, Barbara Gonzalez, told reporters that the arrests were part of a criminal probe targeting the owners of the business for possible identity fraud and other crimes, not an enforcement action directed at the employees. I was struck by the almost apologetic tone of her comments. Read more...

Crooked FSOs Busted for Selling Visas

By David Seminara, August 1, 2013

Two foreign service officers (FSO) in opposite corners of the world recently have been implicated in cash-for-visa scandals that have raised new questions about the State Department's lack of oversight in the visa issuance process. In May, Michael Sestak, an FSO who was serving as the non-immigrant visa (NIV) chief at the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, was arrested in California and has been charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud and bribery. Read more...

Assimilation Too Scary for Some This Halloween

By David Seminara, October 31, 2012

I was listening to WBEZ, my local NPR affiliate on Monday morning and thought that perhaps my ears were deceiving me after hearing the tail end of a story about a local school district in Skokie, Ill., just a few miles from my home, which has cancelled Halloween celebrations this year. For years, we've become accustomed to hearing stories about Christmas-related controversies, but I had no idea that Halloween is also becoming a political football in some parts of the country. Read more...

My Vote for Weakest Immigration Sob Story of the Year

By David Seminara, October 19, 2012

I'm a devoted National Public Radio listener, but their coverage of the immigration issue generally leans toward textbook advocacy journalism. Their reporters might invite someone that believes in the rule of law to give the appearance of "balance", but those sound bites are usually buried deep in a narrative-driven story about a law-abiding, straight-A student who just happens to be "undocumented" and ran afoul of the cruel immigration system. Read more...

ICE Declines to Detain Known Illegal Alien Stopped for Driving on a Suspended License

By David Seminara, October 10, 2012

Immigration activist and former Washington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas, an illegal immigrant from the Philippines, was arrested on Friday in Minnesota during a traffic stop, but ICE refused to take custody of him. Vargas "came out" as an illegal immigrant in a piece he wrote for the New York Times Magazine last year in which he admitted to committing document fraud to try to conceal his illegal status in the United States. Read more...

Mexican President-Elect Criticizes Texas Justice System

By David Seminara, September 28, 2012

According to a front page story in Thursday's New York Times, Mexico's president-elect, Enrique Pena Nieto, "contends that there is a widespread perception that Mexican nationals cannot get a fair trial in Texas." The comment appeared in a story about Rosa Jimenez, an illegal Mexican immigrant who was convicted of murder and was sentenced to 99 years in prison for allegedly jamming five paper towels down the throat of a 21-month old child who died in Read more...

New Poll: Latino Voters Identify as Americans First and Don't Vote on the Immigration Issue

By David Seminara, September 27, 2012

The media often portray Latinos as a monolithic group of single-issue voters who care first and foremost about liberalizing our immigration laws. But a new poll from NBC Latino/Zogby reveals that immigration is a relatively minor concern for most Latinos, with only 5 percent citing it as their top issue. Read more...

Scholarships Just for Illegal Immigrants

By David Seminara, August 24, 2012

Here’s yet another, only-in-America news item: Hampshire College announced the creation of a scholarship fund this week specifically for illegal immigrants. The fund will reportedly provide $25,000 toward Hampshire’s $43,000 annual tuition. At least three states — Texas, California, and New Mexico — provide in-state tuition discounts for illegal immigrants, and UCLA and Cal-Berkeley also have scholarship funds for illegal immigrants.

I have no problem with illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents as children and have grown up here attending college in the United States, but the idea of creating scholarship funds solely for families that broke the law is absurd. People who have no legal right to live in the country should not be entitled to a special scholarship that others can’t even apply for. How would you even vet the applications? Read more...

Olympic Visa Overstayers

By David Seminara, August 10, 2012

While many Olympic athletes are apparently busy picking up on members of the opposite sex, others are busy finding ways to overstay their visas.

Foreign Policy and various other news outlets report that at least eight Olympic athletes, all from developing countries, have gone AWOL in London. Seven of the missing athletes are from Cameroon, five of them boxers, and the eighth was the 15-year-old torchbearer for Ethiopia who was there as part of the International Olympic Committee's International Inspiration program, which is supposed to enrich the lives of young people through sport or, in this case, provide them with a nicer country to live in. Read more...

Greeks Frustrated as Foreigners Fill Jobs, Even During Severe Economic Crisis – Sound Familiar?

By David Seminara, May 24, 2012

Walk along the harbor in Kos, a picturesque Greek island in the eastern Aegean, and you'll be greeted by a host of touts offering menus, brochures for excursions, and "Where you from?" come-ons to get your attention. Greece has an official unemployment rate of 22 percent and a youth unemployment rate of 54 percent, but many of the salespeople aren't Greeks. Read more...

For Better Service, "Marque el Número Dos"

By David Seminara, March 6, 2012

One of the seldom considered aspects of mass immigration is the impact it has on the toll-free customer service lines we use. These days, one can conduct any business imaginable over the phone in Spanish, and sometimes other languages. Most companies now only offer a choice of two languages, but with our population projected to reach 20 percent foreign-born by 2050, we may soon reach a point where services are offered in Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and other languages. Read more...

Interview with a Filmmaker on the Deportation of a Polish Illegal Immigrant

By David Seminara, December 9, 2011

[Editor's note: The segment with NPR's Michel Martin referenced below was part of a series this week entitled "In Limbo" on the program "Tell Me More". The first four installments were about particular immigrant stories, including one featuring the filmmaker interviewed here by Mr. Seminara, and are available here, here, here, and here. The final installment, broadcast today, was an interview with CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian, available here.] Read more...

The 1st Immigrant Who Can Qualify for Newt's Amnesty Wins a Free Lecture on American Exceptionalism

By David Seminara, December 5, 2011

Most candidates have an issues tab on their web site. Newt Gingrich has a solutions tab. The very first "solution" on the site features a ten point plan to reform immigration. The first thing I noticed about Newt's 10 point plan is that it actually has 11 points! Most of them are bizarre, misguided, or simply wrong. As someone with experience working in the State Department's visa bureaucracy, I think Newt's plan looks like it was thrown together without any real input from anyone with a detailed understanding of the issue. Some thoughts: Read more...

Stapling Green Cards to Diplomas, and Other Foolish Ideas You Might Have Missed in the GOP Debate

By David Seminara, November 23, 2011

Another debate, and another disappointing night for the Republicans on the immigration front. We've seen a total of 11 GOP debates to date, and I've yet to hear a candidate demonstrate a deep understanding of our immigration problem. The electorate is crying out for serious reform but all of the GOP hopefuls seem to offer little more than clichés and pandering. Read more...

Failed Campaign Slogan #108: 'Affirmative Action for Immigrants!'

By David Seminara, August 17, 2011

Have you ever heard a politician admit that they support affirmative action for immigrants, legal or illegal? Even the most zealous open borders advocates like U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez would rather not talk about this thorny issue. But every once in a while we are reminded of the fact that immigrants can and do benefit from affirmative action programs in areas such as employment, college admissions, and government contracting. Read more...

Top Ten Immigration Scams

By David Seminara, July 24, 2011

There are anywhere from 11-20 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. When I worked as a consular officer at American embassies overseas I saw so many examples of visa and immigration fraud that it’s hard for me to understand why so many haven’t figured out how to game the system and legalize their status. This is a light-hearted look at some of the most popular scams, in reverse order of their relative popularity. Please do not email me to ask for details on how you can carry out these schemes. Read more...

Top Ten Immigration Scams

By David Seminara, July 24, 2011

There are anywhere from 11-20 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. When I worked as a consular officer at American embassies overseas I saw so many examples of visa and immigration fraud that it’s hard for me to understand why so many haven’t figured out how to game the system and legalize their status. This is a light-hearted look at some of the most popular scams, in reverse order of their relative popularity. Please do not email me to ask for details on how you can carry out these schemes. Read more...

Asylum Fraud Takes Center Stage

By David Seminara, July 18, 2011

In a bizarre turn of events, the DSK Affair has served to highlight the issue of asylum fraud. Last week, The New York Times published a well-researched front page story, and a "Room For Debate" op-ed forum on how to tackle the problem. And Jesse Ellison at the Daily Beast weighed in with a ludicrous piece which asserted that "dishonesty is common when it comes to refugees – not because they're intentionally trying to scam the system, but because the way such claims are processed and determined puts asylum-seekers in a position where they may feel they have no other choice." Read more...

Golden Parachutes for Illegal Chipotle Workers?

By David Seminara, May 20, 2011

If you entered a country illegally, secured work with fraudulent identity documents, and were subsequently terminated once your employer detected the fraud, what would you do? I would slink out very quietly, thanking my lucky stars that the boss didn't immediately turn me over to the police for prosecution or immigration authorities for deportation. But I'm clearly out of step with the modern day sensibilities of illegal immigrants in America, or at least those employed by Chipotle in Washington. Read more...

And the Oscar for Uninformed Immigration Commentary Goes to ... the Dairy Farmer from Utah

By David Seminara, March 9, 2011

Bill Wright, a dairy farmer turned state representative from Utah who is the architect of Utah's half-baked plan to create a guest worker program for illegal immigrants, is my nominee for this year's least-informed immigration policymaker. Read more...

Adventures in Babysitting

By David Seminara, December 17, 2010

It's so easy to find good help these days. But thanks to the power of the internet, illegal immigrants, and those in the country legally but who have no authorization to work, can compete for household jobs on an equal footing with Americans. My wife and I have used sites like www.craigslist.com and www.sittercity.com to find part-time babysitters and housekeepers and have found that anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of the applicants we've come into contact with couldn't prove that they had the legal right to work in the U.S. Read more...

Don't Hate Her Because She's Beautiful

By David Seminara, May 19, 2010

We tuned in for a beauty pageant and a debate about immigration broke out. After reading just a small sampling of the revolting attacks on Rima Fakih, the Lebanese immigrant who was crowned the new Miss USA on Sunday night, I feel compelled to comment on how misguided her critics are. Read more...