Feds Say Korean Lawyer Cheated Agency, Stole Green Cards for 125 Koreans

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A Korean-born immigration lawyer faces years in jail for selling green cards and citizenship rights to more than 125 Koreans, according to a statement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

The statement says a federal grand jury has indicted:

Weon Keuk Lee, 49, a South Korean national and licensed California attorney who previously operated an immigration law firm in Los Angeles; and Young Shin Kim, 59, a naturalized U.S. citizen, who previously operated an accounting firm in Diamond Bar and is now a farmer in Hesperia … [after they] filed approximately 117 fraudulent alien worker petitions with USCIS, resulting in the agency issuing more than 125 visas for the aliens, their spouses and their children.

Officials believe the lawyer is in Vietnam. The statement adds:

The South Korean nationals simply wanted to immigrate to the United States, so they paid between $30,000 and $70,000 to the defendants in the hopes of obtaining a visa … Lee paid Kim nearly $300,000 for preparing the fraudulent documents used with the visa applications.

The lawyer allegedly created a series of fake companies, which then filed applications to get green cards for the Korean co-conspirators.

The green cards were requested from the annual stock of roughly 130,000 Employer-Based (EB) green cards that are issued via the Department of Labor and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency.

To get green cards, the employers have to claim that they cannot find Americans to do the jobs. That claim would seem impossible given that America’s population of 160 million workers is the most diverse and perhaps the most skilled workforce on Earth.

But the EB program has been exploited for many years by companies and by company managers to import cheaper workers, friends, and relatives, or paying clients.

In 2007, for example, immigration lawyers were caught describing how they game the system to claim that no Americans are available for particular jobs:

In the last ten years, this EB system has been used to smuggle hundreds of thousands of workers out of the H-1B program towards green cards, which can be converted into citizenship after five years. The backlog of EB green card applicants has now reached almost 300,000 Indian H-1B workers.

Currently, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) is pushing legislation that would accelerate the award of green cards to 50,000 Indian workers each year. His bill, dubbed S.386, includes few rules to curb fraud in the program.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is pushing rival legislation that would allow roughly 100,000 Indian workers to get green cards and then citizenship per year.

Both bills would greatly increase the incentive for many Indians to take low-wage college jobs in the United States. Those jobs would help them get into the H-1B program, which would allow them to get green cards from employers in exchange for low-wage work. The resulting rush of Indian graduates would push many American graduates out of middle-class jobs.

The alleged EB fraud is just one of many scams used by foreign nationals to grab the huge prize of U.S. citizenship:

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