Our Immigration System is Broken – When is the Reform Coming?

Tell me something I don’t know. America’s immigration system is broken, and it seems the current Government is not inclined to fix it. Many people are asking: When will the reform finally happen?

I don’t know, but there are some indications. But first, let me ask: Do we need an immigration reform? Absolutely. Our immigration system is run by bureaucrats, not professionals. Care to know why I think that must change?

I am sure you have heard about the recent “self-deportation” program “Scheduled Departure” of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A grand total of eight (yes, 8) illegal immigrants showed up by the time it was scrapped. That idea was so hare-brained to begin with, only someone who lives on a different planet could have come up with that. Let’s start with the basic premise: illegal people turn themselves in to schedule their own deportation. Why in the world would any illegal in the U.S. do that? Without turning themselves in, they can live happily, earn a living, send money to their family in El Salvador or Mexico, and if they eventually get caught and deported … well, so be it. Further, bureaucracy is not known for its swift and courteous customer service. Airline service nowadays is lousy, but can you imagine what it must be when your flight is serviced by a deportation agency? If experienced immigration were in charge of the immigration, do you think that “self deportation” blunder would have ever happened? I let you answer that question.

And what if the immigration service locks   Best Lawyers Near Me    you up? Remember that the immigration service routinely locks people up in far away prisons and with jointly common criminals. I had a client a few years ago who foolishly applied for asylum upon her arrival at Dulles International Airport near Washington, DC. She promptly found herself locked up in a medium-security prison about four hours by car from Washington, DC.

You are still not convinced we need an immigration reform? Let me give you a few more examples. There is a lot of fraud that needs to be weeded out, but it seems impossible with the current system. Just last week I had a Hispanic client, a carpenter, in my office seeking a second opinion in an immigration matter. His attorney had applied for a so-called “Labor Certification,” meaning immigration sponsorship through a business that needs that particular worker. He had paid that attorney a lot of money (which immediately made me suspicious), and sincerely believed that if the petition had been approved, he would have been able to work for that sponsoring business and receive permanent residence in the United States. Well, the attorney informed him that the petition had been denied because “the salary was too low.” Nonsense.

Here is what I found out in just a few minutes on the computer: the attorney who filed the case was not an immigration practitioner, but apparently just wanted to make a quick buck before the so-called 245(i) law finally sunset in April 2001. That law permitted people who were illegal in the U.S. to have a business petition for their permanent residence, pay a $1,000 fine, and then “adjust status” (receive their green card) within the United States. The Labor Certification in this case was so poorly drafted, it could have never been approved. Furthermore, the alleged sponsoring company had been out of business even before the petition was filed. The hard-working carpenter simply got relieved of several thousand dollars by his attorney.

If I can figure all of this out in about five minutes on my computer, so could any immigration officer, and at the same time stop (1) fraudulent petitions, and (2) shyster lawyers and “notarios” (self-declared immigration practitioners) who make money off such scams.

Talking about scams, there is the lure of these green sheets of paper that people simply cannot resist. Did you hear about attorney Samuel G. Kooritzky of Arlington, VA? He sold fraudulent Labor Certifications like hot dogs, by the thousands. When he was arrested, he had $44,000.00 in cash on him. Not quite enough for a night of fun, but it is a beginning. His associate had $1 million in cash stashed under his bed.

My favorite story is that of Robert T. Schofield. He worked for 30 years at the Washington District Office of the immigration service (previously INS, now USCIS), and was acting assistant director for examinations from 1998 to 2004. I had suspected for a long time that there was something wrong with him. He was there early every morning when people lined up to get into the immigration office, directing staff, attorneys and visitors. He was always on top of things (and often received kudos from immigration lawyers). And he was always impeccably dressed. He just didn’t look like a bureaucrat. And did not behave like one. Years before his arrest, he allegedly fled to China once with a pretty Chinese escort and charged $36,000 to his government-issued credit card. He came back, was made a supervisor, and sold U.S. citizenship to illegals for $10,000 a pop. When I called a colleague of mine who had previously practiced in Washington, DC, to inform him of the recent arrest of a “high ranking immigration official,” he immediately said “that must be Mr. Schofield, right?”

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