Friday, January 28, 2011

US steps up illegal workers crackdown

US immigration authorities have more than quadrupled the number of jobsite inspections for illegal workers in two years, a government report said Wednesday.

In fiscal year 2010, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) initiated a "record" 2,746 worksite enforcement investigations, said the report submitted to Congress by the agency's deputy head Kumar Kibble. That's more than double the 503 inspections in 2008. Fines for 237 violations reached almost seven million dollars, compared to the 18 violations and 675,209 dollars in penalties in 2008.

Kibble told lawmakers ICE was focused on identifying "criminal illegal aliens who pose a threat to the public." The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees ICE, has "fundamentally reformed immigration enforcement," he said.

Republicans, who now dominate the House of Representatives, have criticized President Barack Obama's approach to immigration as weak.

Kibble noted DHS "has engaged in record enforcement, removing more aliens in both 2009 and 2010 than in any point in the history of our country, including more than 195,000 criminal aliens last year."

Advocacy groups representing migrants have meanwhile criticized what they call heavy-handed raids in Hispanic communities along the US-Mexico border.

"ICE is now taking custody of more aliens encountered at the border and is increasing the consequences for illegal entry and reentry," Kibble said.

"Aliens who illegally enter in Arizona, for instance, are no longer given the opportunity to return voluntarily and instead are given orders of removal and are repatriated through other states."
The southwestern state of Arizona has seen more illegal immigrants than anywhere else along the border, and has been the scene of bitter political standoffs on immigration issues between the tough approach of the state government and the federal government's softer stance.


Immigration scam unveiled in a California university

Federal prosecutors have labeled Pleasanton, California-based Tri-valley University a sham, alleging that the institution was merely a facade used by the authorities to run a racket that facilitated illegal student immigration status for foreign nationals and authorized them to remain in the United States.

Bay Area News Group publication Contra Costa Times has reported that the Tri-Valley University founded by Susan Su earned millions of dollars in tuition fees since its establishment, luring foreign students, a majority from India, by granting F-1 visas. The university had received approval in February 2009 to grant F1 visas for about 30 students.

For a student to acquire and maintain an F-1 visa, he must physically attend classes and show that he is making reasonable progress towards course completion. The University on the other hand catered mostly to online students and falsely registered their address as that of a single apartment in Sunnyvale. Upon investigation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities, it was found that four university students lived at that address between 2007 and 2009 but there have been none since. Between May 2009 and 2010, however, the number of active students who received F-1 visas from Tri-valley University went up from 11 to 939.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that a student visa-related fraud has been uncovered in the State. In March 2010, Eamonn Daniel Higgins from Santa Ana California was arrested on charges of operating a ring of illegal test-takers, who faked their identity and wrote various proficiency and college-placement exams on behalf of dozens of Middle Eastern nationals, helping them to obtain US student visas. Around the same time, a Florida language school was also exposed as having helped more than 80 foreign nationals, who were purportedly studying at the school but were found never to have attended class, in illegally obtaining student visas.


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