Quote of the day/week/however long

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
~William James

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Iatrogenesis At Work

This title is understood, in the outside world, to refer to the creation of illnesses or complications by well-intentioned medical treatment. Here in our little consular universe, it refers to the type of NIV fraud that is practiced by applicants who are perfectly qualified under the law but who believe that telling the truth will not be good enough. And, as the world knows, the majority of applicants only get, at most, one fair chance. After that it's nearly all, always, routine re-refusals. So they doctor the application and only turn a good one bad. Or they get the visa anyway, but attribute that 'win' to the doctoring process and are encouraged to advise others to do the same.

 The lawyer is right - but is also wrong. Most interviews are less than 5 minutes.

Remember our dear friend Ali? This entrepreneur was able to send all his children to the colleges of their choice because of iatrogenesis; because visa applicants paid him to produce fraudulent documents to bolster their applications, even if there were no grounds under which, if telling the truth, they would or should have been refused. Because even the best qualified among them were sure that the truth would not work.

(Let Madam be clear here: she does not refer to those applicants for whom, no matter what documents they bought, there was no possibility in this world or the next that they would qualify for visas. They are a whole different group of - admittedly wonderful and highly entertaining - applicants. Who here doesn't remember favorite refusals far more clearly and fondly than favorite issuances? Madam thought so.)

Here is a brand-new-very-old news flurry about 'baby hotels' and about women paying huge amounts of money to 'fixers' who help them apply for NIVs, prepare for consular and CBP interviews, and travel to the US to give birth. The news footage on TV was dramatic. And yet, as we all know, having a baby in the US is not illegal. Traveling to the US to have a baby is not illegal. According to the story, "Zoning laws have generally been the primary legal tool against maternity hotels, since it is not illegal for pregnant foreigners to visit the United States or to give birth while visiting. And while lying to get a tourist visa is illegal, it is not easy to prove."

Zoning laws, the terror of the 214(b).

And the part about 'lying to get a tourist visa is illegal?' Does that mean the ladies should be permanently ineligible in the future because of fraud? 212(a)(6)(c) please? No. If the lie is not material - that is, if she would have qualified for the visa has she told the truth - the lie is not fraud. CA has reminded us of this, oh, maybe a jillion times. Maybe more than a jillion.

Imagine how pleasant life would have been for these ladies - all of whom, apparently, were wealthy and were fully intending to go home - had they been able to simply tell the truth. Instead they felt they had no choice but to be led through a maze of shady dealings and pay a huge amount to fixers. But had they told the truth, and had consular officers issued the visas to which they were entitled, they might have worried far less. They might have stayed in the Hilton San Gabriel, with room service, instead of a shabby boarding house surrounded by suspicious neighbors. They might have saved the money they paid the fixers to more easily pay the doctors and hospitals who delivered their babies. They might have made generous down payments on the babies' eventual US educations.

A highly experienced and highly pragmatic officer of Madam's acquaintance once observed "Every bona fide applicant given a 214(b) is living PROOF that other NIV applicants should not just tell the truth. They should buy fraudulent docs that puff up their income. They should lie about relatives in the USA, and civil status. They should say they plan to stay 2 weeks and not 2 months. Soon everyone is giving us fraudulent docs and telling us lies." And soon every consular officer believes he has reason to disbelieve every applicant, so refuses nearly everyone, proving that the applicants' original suspicions were true. So next time, if there is a next time, they'll lie even harder.

 Iatrogenesis Ourobouros, and so it goes


Krista said...

WHile I see your point - I am not comfortable with the word "entitled." Only US Citizens or Nationals are entitled to anything. Not even the wealthiest, best-intentioned, most attractive alien is entitled to a visa.

Madam le Consul said...

Thank you for the careful reading, Krista. But Madam used the word 'entitled' for a very good reason: it's the word that the INA uses in section 214(b):
"Every alien ... shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for a visa, and the immigration officers, at the time of application for admission, that he is ENTITLED to a nonimmigrant status under section 101(a)(15) ."