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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

CONSULAR OFFICER CONVICTED OF EXCHANGING VISAS FOR STRIPPERS AND JEWELRY

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Well, I guess this is a new form of "premium processing." Mike O'Keefe, the deputy noninmmigrant visa chief at the US consulate in Toronto has pleaded guilty to accepting jewelry and trips with exotic dancers in exchange for expediting work visas for STS Jewels, a New York company headed by Sunil Agrawal. Agrawal pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of illegal supplementation of salary which Agrawal's lawyer is hoping won't jeopardize his immigration status to the US (good luck). He faces a potential one year jail term and a fine of up to $100,000. O'Keefe faces up to two years a and a $250,000 fine.

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  1. George Chell's Avatar
    Consular officers are a bizarre lot. One guy in Macedonia told me in 1996 that he did racial profiling in India back in the 1980s and late 1970s when denying visas. Then in DC I met this young woman perhaps in her thirties or early forties around August last year. She lived in my apartment complex and was going to Central America. She said that she would consider anyone an intending immigrant if they were living and working outside the country at the time of application. Thus an Indian born Singaporean would be considered an intending immigrant. I told her that because of people like her there is illegal immigration. The fact is a Singapore national can come anytime to the US and denying student visa is not going to do any good. Then there was an Indian chap denied visas in Chennai who became Singaporean and made it to the US anyway. He ran into the consular officer who denied him the visa in DC..wonder how that encounter went! Of course, now we have this clown doing illegal activities. Wonder why we even have the relic called Section 214(b) for student visas anymore. If someone wants to get here he or she will get here by becoming a Singaporen, Canadian, Australian or whatever nationality. It is only a matter of time. If someone intends to immigrate, he or she will immigrate and all the kings men and women (the consular officers) cannot do anything about it unless they have a shady background which means Singapore will never give them any visa, let alone a Permanent Resident visa.
  2. Another voice's Avatar
    Greg,

    Do you know if under the Obama order to freeze all orders issued by the Bush administration until their full review is the program 287 g which allows sheriff departments to act as immigration officers? Is that thing on hold or is it one of those things that once your are in the program you are in, I guess since Arpio is still making news it probably has not stopped right? it would be great if you had some info on this to give us...
  3. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    The order only covered regs that were published but had not yet become effective. The 287(g) program is not affected.
  4. AD's Avatar
    This Okeefe dude is still a professor at some School in NH.

    Holly Molly

    O'Keefe is to be sentenced on June 19 so he can finish the semester at Southern New Hampshire University, where he is now a professor.
  5. Another voice's Avatar
    Greg,

    There was an article on today's NY times on the 287 (g) program:

    March 4, 2009
    Report Questions an Immigration Program That Uses the Local Police
    By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD
    PHOENIX -- A government report questions the effectiveness of a federal program, long criticized by immigrant advocacy groups, that deputizes police officers as immigration agents.

    The report, to be released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, says the government has failed to determine how many of the thousands of people deported under the program were the kind of violent felons it was devised to root out.

    Some law enforcement agencies had used the program to deport immigrants "who have committed minor crimes, such as carrying an open container of alcohol," the report said, and at least four agencies referred minor traffic offenders for deportation.

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has already ordered a review of the program. A top official at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is set to testify at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.

    Known as 287(g), a reference to the section of a 1996 law authorizing it, the program has been promoted by immigration officials as an important tool in deporting serious criminals. It has also enjoyed the strong support of some local law enforcement agencies, including here in Maricopa County, where the sheriff operates the largest program, with 160 trained deputies.

    But the report said immigration bureau officials had not closely supervised how their agreements with the local agencies had been carried out, had inconsistently described the program's goals and had failed to spell out what data should be tracked, collected and reported.

    A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, to which the immigration agency referred calls, did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages. In a response included in the report, agency officials said they had put in place changes, many of them late last year, that address the report's findings.

    The officials said the agency supported the report's five recommendations, including clarifying the circumstances under which 287(g) authority should be used, spelling out the agency's supervisory role and establishing ways to measure performance. The agency said it would release details in the next two months on how it would improve the program, which received $54 million from Congress this year.

    The report analyzed 29 of the 67 local law enforcement agencies in the program. It found that they arrested 43,000 illegal immigrants last year, including 34,000 taken into custody by the immigration bureau.

    Of the 34,000, the report said, about 41 percent were put in removal proceedings, 44 percent waived their right to a hearing and were immediately deported, and 15 percent were released for reasons including humanitarian grounds, the "minor nature of their crime" and their having been sentenced to prison.

    Citing lapses in data collection, the G.A.O. was unable to determine how many of the arrested immigrants were suspected of committing serious crimes.

    The 287(g) law authorizes the immigration agency to train local and state law enforcement to use its databases to determine legal status and take the first steps in deportation proceedings, but it does not specify which kinds of illegal immigrants to focus on.

    The G.A.O. report said senior managers at the agency told investigators the main goal of the program was curtailing violent crimes, human smuggling, gang activity, drug smuggling and other high-priority offenses. But the agency, the report said, had failed to document that goal clearly in its agreements with the agencies.

    Representative Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, which will hold the hearing on Wednesday, said in a statement that "the record is incomplete, at best, as to whether this program is a success."

    "Without objective data, we cannot evaluate the effectiveness of this program, nor can we determine whether better results could be achieved by other means, such as increasing the number of ICE agents," he said.

    The report did not conclude whether local agencies in the program had engaged in racial profiling, a top concern Mr. Thompson has raised before and a chief complaint in Maricopa County.

    Sheriff's deputies here have arrested thousands of illegal immigrants, many of whom were stopped for traffic violations, in sweeps that have led to lawsuits accusing the department of racial profiling.

    Use of the program has accelerated in recent years as the immigration debate intensified. It has grown to 67 agencies in 23 states with more than 950 deputized officers, from 5 law enforcement agencies in 2005; there is a waiting list of 42 agencies.

    Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas, who was instrumental in getting the program started in 1996, said, "Law enforcement officials believe that this voluntary program works." He added, "Those who are serious about public safety should call for its expansion."

    The G.A.O.'s criticism largely mirrored the findings of recent analyses by independent groups, including a report last week by Justice Strategies, a nonpartisan research foundation in Brooklyn. It found, among other problems, that the program might actually strain local resources because people who have not committed a serious crime are being held on immigration charges.

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