Agriprocessors, you see, has two lucrative and pernicious schemes going. One scheme involves driving wages down to bare subsistence by hiring desperately poor illegal immigrants to work in its slaughterhouse—the criminal enterprise that made the news last week. The other involves fraudently claiming that the United States has run out of native-born meat-cutters and then, with the help of American Immigration Lawyers Association member Christopher Teras, securing work visas for foreigners worth $30,000 each on the street in Guangzhou.
If it is the pattern and practice of Mr. Rubashkin, the sponsoring employer, Mr. Teras, the immigration lawyer, and Mr. Hu Shu Bin, almost certainly the agent of the sponsoring employer, to sponsor employees who consistently leave after two weeks, or who never show up in Postville at all, it militates against a finding that there ever was any intent to employ the alien for a reasonable period of time. The employer’s defense of employment intent is removed. He is indictable. He and all parties are amenable to being charged with conspiracy, racketeering, labor certification fraud, money laundering, making false statements, and, perhaps, tax evasion. [ US Code ]
The Department of Homeland Security severely restricts the public’s access to information it possesses about, for example, the number of visa applications a particular attorney has executed (why?). Therefore, it is difficult to say how much profit the Teras-Postville scheme generated.
However, Mr. Timmerman, Ms. Kim, and Mr. Hu all claimed, according to the charging document in the Hu case, that the Teras-Postville scheme generated "hundreds" of such cases.
Let’s say the Teras-Postville scheme collaborated on 200 such visas. At $30,000 per person, 200 such entries would have generated $6 million.
But hundreds of such cases? Isn’t it a little hard to believe such a large scale fraud involving so many people could go undetected for years?
The famous case against an immigration lawyer named Samuel Kooritzky is instructive. While in that case labor certifications were being filed for nonexistent businesses, or for business that actually existed, but without the business’s knowledge that the certifications were being filed, the Kooritzky case shows how the scheme operates, and on what potential scale. A DOL special agent testified at Kooritzky’s trial in December, 2002, that the immigration lawyer "filed 2,200 phony labor applications last year alone." Kooritzky v. Herman DC U.S. Court of Appeals, 1999
From an article by Tom Jackman, who covered the Kooritzky case for the Washington Post:
"There’s every reason to believe this is going on all over the country," said Ben Ferro, a former INS district director in Baltimore. Ferro said the INS doesn’t have enough agents to track internal visa schemes, particularly with increased border scrutiny and other changes in priorities since Sept. 11. "There are many, many areas of immigration law that, because INS doesn’t have the ability or willingness to monitor and stamp them out, it goes unchecked," he said. "And when these things are found, they’re usually only prosecuted when they reach the kinds of numbers you’re talking about here."
Kooritzky was convicted of filing thousands of petitions and led away from the courtroom in handcuffs to serve time in prison. But there is more to the Kooritzky case.