One of my least favorite, if that’s the right term, immigration violations is marriage fraud. Among other annoyances, the K-1 fiancée visa which facilitates much of the fraud is one of the most obviously useless in the non-immigrant category. With little effort it could be eliminated or rewritten to severely tighten its guidelines.
During my 25-year California teaching career, I had considerable first-hand experience with newly married couples (involving the K-1) who enrolled in my English as a Second Language classes. The typical profile was a middle aged or older male with a non-English speaking much younger female who had never been to the United States. They “met” through one of the thousands of Internet dating services that hook up foreign-born women eager to come to America with men looking for a second or third chance at love. These marriages of convenience pair someone willing to trade her affection for a green card with someone gambling that his new relationship will somehow work out. Most, however, don’t.
On February 16, two days after Valentine’s Day, 55-year-old twin Filipino-American brothers Manny and Marc Aguja were sentenced to federal prison for arranging sham marriages that enabled foreign nationals to illegally become U.S. citizens. Both plead guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. [Chicago Brothers Sentenced in Sham Marriage Scheme, Associated Press, February 16, 2012]
The sentences concluded a lengthy ICE investigation. But get this. Manny is a former private immigration lawyer who practiced in Chicago; his brother worked in the same office. Manny was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $10,000 fine; Marc12 months and $10,000. The brothers both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.
In addition to jail time and the fines, the U.S. Department of Justice formally barred Manny Aguja from ever practicing immigration law. A disbarred Aguja may be the best news of all. Read the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division documents here.
Whenever scam artists who specialize in marriage fraud are exposed, I consider it a step forward toward what I hope will be the eventual re-evaluation of the dozens of visas including the K-1 that have not only outlived their usefulness but also lead to abuses that harm everyone. involved.