Posts Tagged immigration

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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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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Corruption as Convention

In the midst of the debate over state-run health care comes news that blames the steady influx of immigrants for a rise in Medicare fraud.

A top investigator at the Department of Justice tells the Houston Chronicle, “There’s a real problem of health care fraud in recent immigrant communities—we see it every day,” the official said. “One of the reasons is you’re looking at people who don’t come up through the educational system, they’re impoverished, they think this country is very rich, and they don’t view taking advantage of a government program as a crime.”

The statistics on immigrant criminality are incomplete and unreliable, providing a muddled picture at best. But qualitative observation may lend credence to the DOJ official’s claim.

It has long been held, perhaps a bit hyperbolically, that America is exceptional. Our system of constitutional federalism predicated on the rule of law developed out of distinct social conditions and emerged as a unique alternative to the corrupt systems that have beset much of the world. We are heirs to a legacy of justice that guides our transactions and is backed by unparalleled legal protections. This legacy provides an expectation that governments will be restrained in their actions and private parties will honor their contractual agreements. While there are many instances in which our system falls short, this remains its core intent. Most peoples are not so fortunate.

Although the press has not reported the Houston Medicare fraud suspects’ nationality there is speculation that they are from Nigeria, a country rich in oil but “long hobbled by political instability” and “corruption.” It is not a stretch to suggest that state-sanctioned vice has always been a part of life for Nigerian immigrants. This brings to mind another oil-rich kleptocracy that accounts for 31 percent of our immigration: Mexico.

Fredo Arias-King, former advisor to Mexican President Vicente Fox, describes long-standing conditions in Mexico:

Mexicans are kind and hardworking, with a legendary hospitality, and unlike some European nations, harbor little popular ambitions to impose models or ideologies on others. However, Mexicans are seemingly unable to produce anything but corrupt and tyrannical rulers, oftentimes even accepting them as the norm, unaffected by allegations of graft or abuse. Mexico, and Latin American societies in general, seem to suffer from what an observer called “moral relativism,” accepting the “natural progress” of the political class rather than challenging it, and also appearing more susceptible to “miracle solutions” and demagogic political appeals. Mexican intellectuals speak of the corrosive effects of Mexican culture on the institutions needed to make democracy work, and surveys reveal that most of the population accepts and expects corruption from the political class. A sociological study conducted throughout the region found that Latin Americans are indeed highly susceptible to clientelismo, or partaking in patron-client relations, and that Mexico was high even by regional standards.

The expectation of corruption back home is why many Mexicans desire to come here. But ingrained prejudices are difficult to overcome. Even victims often imitate their oppressors. And thus it seems reasonable to surmise that the patron-client relationship, instilled for generations, is the lens in which some Mexicans view the state. Through such a lens, exploiting a federal subsidy is at worst a morally neutral activity necessary for survival.

Mr. Arias-King predicts that this phenomenon will slowly alter our institutions: “In the end, the result of mass Latin American immigration will not likely present the stark choice of democracy versus non-democracy for the United States, but the quality of democracy may indeed be affected.”
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The Cosmic Race

The National Council of La Raza has just wrapped up its annual conference in Chicago. While I think Tom Tancredo was engaging in hyperbole when he described La Raza as “a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses” (that describes instead MEChA and the Brown Berets), there’s more to the comparison than people might realize.

La Raza’s attempt to explain away their name as meaning “the people” or “the community” instead of “the race” notes correctly, and approvingly, that the phrase was coined by former Mexican secretary of education Jose Vasconcelos in the 1920s as “La Raza Cosmica.” But maybe they didn’t look closely enough at the theoretical underpinnings of the concept. Here’s what Guillermo Lux and Maurilio Vigil wrote about it in Aztlan: Essays on the Chicano Homeland:

The concept of La Raza can be traced to the ideas and writings of Jose Vasconcelos, the Mexican theorist who developed the theory of la raza cosmica (the cosmic or super race) at least partially as a minority reaction to the Nordic notions of racial superiority. Vasconelos developed a systematic theory which argued that climatic and geographic conditions and mixture of Spanish and Indian races created a superior race. The concept of La Raza connotes that the mestizo is a distinct race and not Caucasian, as is technically the case.

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He’s Just Not That Into You

Schadenfreude alert: “Obama loses immigration allies; Activists picket, feel betrayed by administration policies.” Actually, though, I’m sure Rahm Emanuel chuckles appreciatively anytime the lefties accuse the White House of being too tough on immigration
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