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The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.

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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

August 22, 2006

Written by C.N.

Immigration Fraud in Little Saigon

By now, we should know that because of various push and pull factors, many people are desperate to immigrate to the U.S. In that context, there are several illegitimate ways in which people have tried/are using in order to come to the U.S. Recently, authorities have busted a scam that involved Vietnamese American citizens fraudulently sponsoring women from Viet Nam as wives:

The scam targeted in Operation Newlywed Game, allegedly spearheaded by defendant Julie Tran and others, was dismantled in late 2005 after investigators arrested 43 people on suspicion of conspiracy, misuse of visas and marriage fraud. Of those, 18 have been convicted or have pleaded guilty and 25 are facing trial. . . . Authorities said she was linked to 75 phony marriages and the filing of about 100 bogus visa petitions.

The scams are popular in Little Saigon, where immigrants learn of them through word of mouth, agents say. The perpetrators recruited U.S. citizens mostly at casinos — those who were on a losing streak and needed quick money, agents said. The immigrants trying to get into the United States would pay the “facilitators” organizing the scams, who then would pay the U.S. citizens willing to pose as husbands. . . .

Authorities say many Vietnamese families in the U.S. will pool their money — up to $60,000 in cases involving Tran — to bring over relatives, hoping the bogus marriages will help the relatives obtain citizenship.

This particular story is rather tragic on both sides. On the one hand, Vietnamese women and their families are lured into this scam, given false hope that this is an easy way to immigrate to the U.S., and end up paying thousands of dollars (which in Viet Nam can amount to several years if not decades of earnings), only to have their hopes dashed.

On the other hand, the organizers of this scam were also apparently preying on Vietnamese men with a gambling addiction and desperate to earn some money. Instead of trying to help these men with their addiction, they exploited their vulnerabilities for their own gain. In other words, the Vietnamese community lost out twice with this scam — three if you also count the fact that the Vietnamese were scammed by those within their own community.

Indeed, this particular story is tragic in many different ways and the perpetrators deserve to be punished. At the same time, I see this story as a symptom of the larger problem — that the immigration system is broken, in many ways too restrictive, and needs to be reformed immediately.

Many in the Asian American community have called for easing the backlog of family reunification applications that are currently languishing within the administrative bureaucracy and only serve to heighten the desperation that many Vietnamese (and others) feel to come to the U.S. In other words and as this story describes, there are many ways to immigrate to the U.S. illegally.

As I’ve written before, in order to address these symptoms once and for all, we need comprehensive immigration reform, not narrow-minded kneejerk proposals that may only temporarily decrease illegal immigration or only shift the flow somewhere else.

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Immigration Fraud in Little Saigon" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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