Response to ‘Head of English Language School Sentenced to Federal Prison’

I was just doing a bit of “Web Surfing” when I came up with this press release that was issued by the Atlanta Office of the FBI about two weeks ago. In digging a bit further I found a newspaper article that noted that the primary defendant in this case, Songwoo Shim, was not a United States citizen and would face the possibility of deportation upon the completion of his prison sentence. I was additionally able to find the FBI press release that was issued on June 4th of this year when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy in conjunction with a scheme that involved immigration fraud.

I would like to think that Shim was doing the work Americans won’t do, but unfortunately I am confident that there are, indeed, American citizens who engage in various fraud schemes involving immigration ranging from the individual who marries an alien for money to those who engage in far-ranging conspiracies.

These press releases report on the successful investigation, arrest and prosecution of an individual who facilitated the entry of illegal aliens into our country by furnishing hundreds of aliens with documentation that either enabled them to enter the United States illegally by committing fraud or remaining in the United States illegally through fraud.

Most people equate illegal aliens with aliens, often from Latin America, running our nation’s southern border. Indeed, it is estimated that some 60% of the illegal aliens in our country entered the United States by running our nation’s borders. However, some 40% of our illegal alien population did not run our nation’s border but entered through a port of entry and either committed visa fraud (immigration fraud) or violated the terms of their admission into the United States after being admitted by overstaying their authorized period in our country, accepting unauthorized employment, failing to attend a school they were admitted to attend or committing a felony.

Fraud, as you probably know, can be thought of as a lie placed on an application that affords the individual with a benefit that he or she would not be lawfully entitled to if all of the material facts were known.

In this case the fraud provided the aliens involved with the ability to convince appropriate government officials such as visa issuing officers of the United States State Department overseas, CBP (Customs and Border Protection) inspectors at ports of entry and USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) adjudicators that they were entering the United States in order to attend schools in the United States. According to the press release, the school in question was a school in name only and was created in order to provide Songwoo Shim with a means of generating false documentation to enable the aliens in question to game the immigration system.

As you probably know, I spent a year of my career with the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) as an adjudicator in the unit that determined whether or not to grant resident alien status to aliens who claimed to be married to United States citizens or lawful permanent residents (immigrants).

My very first assignment as a brand new criminal investigator (special agent) back in 1975 was at the Frauds Unit of the Investigations Branch of the New York Office of the INS.

I have testified at numerous Congressional hearings about the issue of immigration benefit fraud and visa fraud and, in fact, back on May 20, 1997 when I testified before the first Congressional hearing at which I participated, the topic was “VISA FRAUD AND IMMIGRATION BENEFITS APPLICATION FRAUD”

Here is a link to the transcript of that hearing:

The incentives for that hearing were the two terrorist attacks committed in the United States in 1993. As you may recall, in January 1993 a citizen of Pakistan, Mir Amir Kansi stood outside CIA headquarters one morning and opened fire with an AK-47 targeting passengers in cars arriving for work at the CIA resulting in two CIA officials being killed and three others seriously wounded. Kansi had succeeded in committing immigration fraud when he applied for political asylum and was granted asylum even though he misrepresented material facts in his application. He showed his gratitude to our nation by committing murder. He fled the United States but was ultimately captured, returned to the United States to stand trial, was found guilty and executed for his crimes.

The second case involved the first bombing at the World Trade Center in February 1993 which left 6 people dead, hundreds of people injured and an estimated one half billion dollars in damage inflicted on what had been one of the most prominent features of the New York City skyline. The perpetrators of that bombing had also managed to commit immigration fraud.

What was incomprehensible was that it took more than four years for our nation to conduct those hearings. (I would remind you that our nation one the Second World War in under four years and here it took our government four years to hold a hearing on how immigration fraud left our nation vulnerable to terrorist attacks!) Furthermore, even after those hearings, the Clinton administration did nothing to address the vital issue of immigration fraud and its consequences for national security!

In November, 2001 I was asked to testify before the Immigration Reform Caucus on immigration related issues that contributed to our nation’s vulnerability to the terrorist attacks that had been conducted just over one month earlier.

On March 19, 2002 testified before a Congressional hearing that was conducted by the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims, having been contacted by the minority counsel who at the time worked with the then Ranking Member of that subcommittee, Sheila Jackson Lee.

The topic of this hearing was:


Here is the link to the transcript of that hearing:

What was utterly astounding about this hearing is that this approval that was granted to those two terrorists came 6 months after the terrorist attacks in which they played instrumental roles! Think about that- the entire world knew that these malevolent bums were terrorists and they were dead, but the former INS just went about its business as incompetently as ever and provided them with official permission to change schools and immigration status! This was incompetence on a galactic scale! Unfortunately I can tell you that things are still not particularly better at USCIS today! On May 11, 2006 I testified before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on International Relations on the topic: “VISA OVERSTAYS: CAN WE BAR THE TERRORIST DOOR?”

Here is the link to the transcript of that hearing:

I could list additional hearings at which I participated on the issue of immigration fraud and ways in which illegal aliens easily game the immigration system but I think I have provided you with enough evidence as to how well known this area of vulnerability is to our nation’s leaders.

Certainly I am glad that the FBI and DHS scored a success in this case but I have some points that need to be made.

First of all, the press releases noted that hundreds of aliens entered into a conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, yet only the officials connected with the school were apparently prosecuted or even identified. Therefore I would love to know what is being done with the hundreds of illegal aliens who succeeded in gaming the immigration system to enter our country and presumably embed themselves in communities in the United States.

ICE has fewer than 4,000 special agents for the entire United States of America. How many of those agents are knocking on doors and seeking to arrest and prosecute those hundreds of illegal aliens who committed fraud? Here is my guess- not a single one of those aliens is being sought! That has been the case in nearly every single instance where a fraud ring is dismantled! How does that deter aliens in other situations from employing individuals who conspire with them to enable them to enter the United States through fraud?

Second; we all know that cops only stop a small percentage of speeders on the highway and other who violate the vehicle and traffic laws.

While, as I noted earlier, I am pleased that Mr. Shim was arrested, how many others are “out there” plying their trades in various immigrant communities?

Immigration fraud does, as was noted in the press releases, represent an imminent threat to national security yet there are scant resources dedicated to weeding out immigration fraud.

Finally; we keep hearing about how the administration and members of Congress are eager to enact a massive amnesty program to provide unknown millions of illegal aliens with a “pathway to United States citizenship.”

What resources are available to investigate and thwart those who would provide false documents to defraud the system?

The “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” legislation that the Senate voted down two years ago would have required the overworked, understaffed and generally inept and incompetent agency known as USCIS to adjudicate a minimum of 100,000 applications for amnesty each and every day in addition to all of the other work that that agency is responsible for doing each day. (As it now stands, USCIS adjudicates more than 6 million applications for a wide variety of immigration benefits each and every year and has roughly 600 investigators to attempt to create a semblance of integrity to that bureaucratic nightmare!)

Just as Mr. Shim provided aliens with documents that enabled them to game the immigration system by posing as students, a massive amnesty program for millions of illegal aliens whose identities are unknown and unknowable would provide those intent on making a quick dollar by providing false supporting documents to those millions of illegal aliens with “evidence” as to their identities and to substantiate that they have been residing in the United States for the requisite period of time in order to be eligible to file for participation in “Comprehensive Immigration Reform.”

In 1986 our nation enacted what was billed as a “one shot” amnesty program for what had been estimated as a population of no more than 1.1 million illegal aliens. By the time the dust had settled, nearly 4 million illegal aliens had acquired lawful status under the auspices of that fraud-laden program. While it was possible that the estimates as to the number of illegal aliens present in our country was miscalculated, my colleagues and I at the INS were firmly convinced that a significant number of those 4 million legalized immigrants had succeeded in lying about their the dates that they entered the United States. Many of them had, no doubt, entered the United States long after the cutoff date by which they had to have entered the United States in order to be eligible to apply for amnesty.

If the old INS was unable to verify identities and entry data for 4 million illegal aliens, what would USCIS do with 20 or 30 million illegal aliens?

If our “leaders” succeed in enacting “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” it would, I predict have nearly as much impact on our nation as if our nation had declared anyone born on the planet earth to be a United States citizen!

The 911 Commission identified immigration fraud as the means by which terrorists often enter the United States and then embed themselves within communities across our nation. Criminals are also known to use immigration fraud for the same purpose. Imagine what impact a massive amnesty program for tens of millions of illegal aliens would have on national security and the economy of our nation along with so many other critical issues that challenge our nation today!

Yet Senator Charles Schumer, the chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee has stated that now that the border has been secured it is time to enact “Comprehensive Immigration Reform.”

Of course we all know that the border is anything but secure but what I would love to know is what would Mr. Schumer do to weed out the fraud? He purportedly represents New York States. New York City bore the brunt of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and was also hit in February of 1993. Yet for him and all too many of his colleagues in the Congress, this threat to national security is not nearly as important as a desire to crank out as many new citizens (and voters) as possible!

Our nation must not only secure its borders against the illegal entry of illegal aliens, but must create an immigration system that has meaningful integrity if our nation is to effectively address the many challenges confronting our country and our citizens.

In less than two years each and every member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection. In less than two years more than one third of the members of the United States Senate will have to face their constituents. They need to be reminded that they work for us, We the People! The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines! The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians. I implore you to get involved! If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! You need to politely but pointedly, demand to know what they are doing to protect our nation. You need to ask them how they are protecting you and your families. You can also forward this commentary to them. All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are! We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue! You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem! Democracy is not a spectator sport! Lead, follow or get out of the way!

Head of English Language School Sentenced to Federal Prison for Immigration Fraud Conspiracy Songwoo Shim Obtained Fraudulent Certification for School and Used School as Front to Issue Fraudulent Immigration Documents to Illegal Aliens

Michael Cutler
Michael Cutler, a former Senior INS Investigator, an expert witness in more than a dozen Congressional Hearings is a Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and an advisor to the '911 Families for a Secure America.' He writes about the nexus between immigration and national security.