Former INS employee, 6 others indicted in marriage fraud scheme

Published on December 17th, 2012

Immigration discussions usually focus on lax border security or on the need to punish employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens. Rarely discussed is the flawed process by which aliens are granted a variety of immigration benefits which range from obtaining permission to lawfully work, to acquiring lawful immigrant status and, ultimately, to becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Numerous Government Accountability Office and Office of Inspector General reports have explained how immigration benefits programs and the visa issuance process are hobbled by ineptitude, a lack of resources and are also riddled with fraud.

On December 10, 2012 ICE posted a news release about Andrew Chojecki and six of his alleged co-conspirators for marriage fraud. Chojecki, a naturalized citizen, is a former INS adjudications officer. The ICE investigation ended Chojecki's alleged criminal activities. However, the report is incomplete.

Since Chojecki is a citizen, ICE investigators should review his immigration file to determine if he acquired citizenship fraudulently.

When the Department of Homeland Security was created in 2002, INS was dismantled. Therefore Chojecki has likely not worked as an adjudications officer for long; the news release didn't say how long he was employed or under what circumstances he stopped working at the agency. Chojecki may have adjudicated thousands of applications during the course of his career. If he accepted bribes or if any other type of fraud was involved during his adjudications (many of which are well documented all over the Internet), ICE made no mention of it or named the aliens who may have benefited.

While the report identified six alleged co-conspirators, there was no reference to efforts to identify, locate, arrest, prosecute and/or deport aliens who entered into sham marriages.

Marriage fraud is not a “victimless crime.”  The 9/11 Commission identified immigration benefit fraud as being an essential embedding tactic used by terrorists to hide in plain sight.

The commission prepared a Monograph on Terrorist Travel about immigration fraud. Here are two excerpts:

From the first paragraph of the reports preface:

"It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal….”

Page 98 contains the following under the title "Immigration Benefits:”

"Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack."

Immigration fraud imperils national security and must be effectively addressed.

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