Three Years of Fraud in the U.S.: The Case of Manoj Kargudri

WASHINGTON (November 2009) – The Center for Immigration Studies is releasing the third video in its series Border Basics by Janice Kephart, Three Years of Fraud in the U.S.: The Case of Manoj Kargudri.

Following closely on the heels of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s announcement that she is looking forward to working with Congress on “comprehensive immigration reform,” Janice Kephart explores how the agency that would be responsible for carrying out an amnesty of 12 million illegal aliens still cannot ferret out fraud in a single simple employment petition even eight years after 9/11.

Kephart examines the case of Manoj Kargudri, an Indian national who exploited simple loopholes in our immigration system five times over three years to enter and remain in the United States. Kargudri was finally stopped at the San Antonio airport on August 28, 2008, by the Transportation Security Administration. He was not stopped because of his immigration violations, but rather because he had a one-way ticket to Washington and in his carry-on luggage were box cutters and a homemade battery strapped to his MP3 player. Luckily, he turned out not to be a terrorist, but the fraud in the immigration system allowed Kargudri to obtain a visa and enter and stay in the United States for three years before he was finally arrested and deported.

Kephart concludes that while Kargudri’s employment fraud is largely solvable, the agency responsible for adjudicating immigration benefits, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has been making unfulfilled promises for years about upgrading its systems to effectively reduce application fraud. In a broader context, the Kargudri case raises more questions about the soundness of pursuing amnesty within a bureaucracy where applicant fraud still runs rampant.

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Amnesty’s a Year Away, and Always Will Be

In between Quebecois meals bathed in gravy, or meat pies, or meat pies bathed in gravy, I missed something from a story this week on Obama’s latest signal that amnesty’s not happening any time soon:

But immigrant advocacy groups have been keeping up the pressure to hold Mr. Obama to his promise to Hispanic voters – that he’d make immigration reform a top priority during his first year in office.

“If we don’t see a vote in Congress sooner than later, we will see a large Latino community not showing up at polls in midterm elections…. That is something the Democratic Party needs to measure,” says Francisco Lopez, executive director of CAUSA, the largest Hispanic advocacy group in the Pacific Northwest.

In other words, at least some Hispanic pressure groups are playing a long game by outlining ahead of time the story line that the shellacking Democrats are likely to face — first this November in N.J. and Va. and then next November nationwide — is due to the party’s insufficient attention to Hispanic demands. In fact, many of the Hispanic groups already believe they’re responsible for Obama’s election in the first place, despite the fact that he would have won even if not a single Hispanic had voted.
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The Elephant in the Room: Panel on Immigration’s Impact on Health Care Reform

While there has been some discussion of whether illegal immigrants should be covered by proposed government insurance plans, the enormous impact of immigration, both legal and illegal, on the health care system has generally not been acknowledged in the current debate. On August 19, the Center for Immigration Studies held a panel discussing the health care issue.

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The Elephant in the Room: Panel on Immigration’s Impact on Health Care Reform

Contact: Steven Camarota, (202) 466-8185, sac@cis.org

WASHINGTON (August 10, 2009) – One out of three people in the U.S. without health insurance is an immigrant (legal or illegal) or the U.S.-born child (under 18) of an immigrant. Immigrants and their children also account for one-fourth of those on Medicaid. While there has been some discussion of whether illegal immigrants should be covered by proposed government insurance plans, the enormous impact of immigration, both legal and illegal, on the health care system has generally not been acknowledged in the current debate.

The Center for Immigration Studies will hold a panel discussion to explore what effects immigration policy both current and future may have on health care reform. The panel will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 19, in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club, 14th & F streets.

Panelists will include:

Steven A. Camarota, Director of Research, Center for Immigration Studies, author of The High Cost of Cheap Labor: Illegal Immigration and the Federal Budget, and an expert in the areas of economics and demography

Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation, an authority on poverty, the U.S. welfare system, and immigration.

James R. Edwards, Jr., Fellow, Center for Immigration Studies, coauthor of The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform, and former Communications Manager for the Healthcare Leadership Council.

Moderator: Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies

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Who Counts?

While reflecting on a recent Quebec meal of french fries bathed in cheese and gravy (who thought that up, anyway?), I read the Wall Street Journal piece linked in the web briefing about the harmful effects of counting illegal aliens in next year’s decennial census for the purposes of congressional (and state legislative) apportionment. For details on which states won and lost from the inclusion of illegal (and legal) immigrants in the past two censuses, see my colleagues’ work on this (here, here, and here).

But as sympathetic as I am to the concerns of the authors, the piece is sloppy and poorly thought-out. Both the authors and the headline writer conflate the inclusion of illegal aliens in the count with the inclusion of non-citizens in general — obviously, all illegals are non-citizens but not all non-citizens are illegal. If they’d done some research, they’d have learned that the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a low-immigration activist group, sued over the 1980 and 1990 censuses to stop the inclusion of illegal aliens for the purposes of apportionment and lost both times for lack of standing (if U.S. citizen eligible voters don’t have standing, who does?). But I’ve never heard of any effort to exclude legal residents from the census count and the article’s implication that the inclusion of even legal non-citizens is a new development is simply absurd (heard of the Constitution’s three-fifths rule, anyone?)
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“Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border”: Recent Developments

Since the July 15, 2009, posting of the Center for Immigration Studies’ video, “Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border: Coyotes, Bears, and Trails,” a lot has happened. None of it can be claimed to have been caused by the video, but there has been an interesting uptick in events in Washington and on the southeast Arizona border since its posting. While each of the events involving the federal government has acquired a hue of spin or premeditated silence, it does seem that a change is a coming – if the pressure keeps mounting. The Border Patrol is ramping up, the Forest Service has closed off some of the worst illegal layup areas due to potential bear encounters, and Congress is asking a lot of questions.

Border Patrol

On July 30, 2009, borderinvasionpics.com captured on film the largest group of illegal aliens in its 10 months online: 41. They looked tired, having just come up a steep climb through the Coronado National Forest, many of them resting and then moving on. In juxtaposition, just this past week, for the first time, the Border Patrol moved into the border area in high numbers, cutting off some of the trails leading to the hidden cameras. According to our sources, agents in the field say increased numbers of agents patrolling south of the mountains 24/7 is permanent, as are scope trucks and agents with all-terrain vehicles (they are often on foot). More men, more vehicles, and more technology are on the ground to help stem the flow. In addition, up near the rendezvous points where the trails end, the Border Patrol have set up ‘tent cities’ and the initial action has stopped groups of aliens from successful entry.
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Crime and Economic Punishment in the State of Zacatecas

For years, the economy of the north central Mexican state of Zacatecas has grown increasingly dependent on remittances sent home by sons and daughters living in the United States. Many of the migrants boosted the economy by building homes in their native towns. They returned at Christmas time on the feast days of the local patron saint. Many dreamed of retiring to the place where they had grown up.

Now a great reversal is underway. Across the state, homes have been put up for sale, glutting the market and depressing prices. Many of the migrants have been caught in the U.S. economic downturn and need the money to sustain themselves north of the border. Many are fearful of the violence and kidnapping that have shaken Zacatecas, as kidnappers and drug traffickers become increasingly bold and ruthless.

A story in today’s Reforma newspaper, out of Mexico City, quotes a government official in the town of Jerez as saying a third of the town’s properties are for sale.

When I visited Zacatecas several years ago, the mayor of Jerez said about 30,000 natives had moved to the U.S., leaving about an equal number behind in the town. They had become steadily more dependent on remittances. If you took the remittances out of Jerez, it would wreck the economy, the owner of one of the town’s many money transfer businesses told me.

As the U.S. economy has suffered, so has the economy of Jerez, where remittances have fallen drastically. Crime, especially kidnapping of residents who have relatives in the U.S., has also shaken the area.
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