U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services redesigned the I-797 form, and although that action didn’t get much media attention, it’s already helping decrease fraud.
The I-797 is a form used to inform the recipient about benefits or decisions by the government.
The Center for Immigration Studies said the form used to be printed on high-quality paper, resulting in an appearance that looked very “impressive.”
Crooks took note—the form could be used to trick local government employees at places like the state motor vehicles agency into issuing driver’s licenses or license plates to people in the country illegally. You can imagine how easy it would be to make the leap to getting a voter’s registration in many states once you have a valid driver’s license in hand.
USCIS switched the paper to plain paper, and where applicable, added a notice that the I-797 didn’t grant any kind of benefit.
Why is that important?
A couple months after the change, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement busted a big crime ring allegedly run by Young-Kyu Park. Park is accused of paying USCIS contract employees at the agency’s Western Forms Center in Monclair (Calif.) to steal batches of I-797s. The ring members would then complete the forms to make them look official and they’d sell them to illegals. The forms were advertised in Korean language newspapers, said CIS, under headings like “New Jersey Driver’s Licenses.”
If you can read more than one language, pick up a copy of a newspaper from another country. You can usually find local papers in native languages at ethnic restaurants. You will see numerous ads for all sorts of federal and other benefits.
When I write about immigration, I always include the bureaucratic side of the issue. The U.S. at present has little control over millions of foreign nationals who keep their native citizenship while accessing U.S. entitlements.
What kind of role did fraud by foreign nationals play in the housing meltdown? At the height of the boom, you could buy a house in a heartbeat. Government protocol played a role, but no one’s looking into that at present.
One more thing of note. It might be a good idea to do extensive background checks on federal contract workers.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/July 9, 2012)
Related at The US Report