42 Eye-Opening, Shocking, Crazy, Happy & Fun Stories from a Retired U.S. Immigration Officer

This story collection is a revealing exploration of the American immigration system, focusing on stories of individuals who exploit the system, particularly through fraudulent marriages, to gain entry into the United States. The book highlights the tension between the nation's compassionate nature and the abuse of its immigration pathways. Beyond just exposing immigration fraud, it celebrates the resilience of the American spirit and its commitment to justice and fairness.

The book combines extensive research, personal accounts, and expert insights to unravel the complexities of immigration deception and its impact on individuals, families, and society. It also showcases the efforts of professionals dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the immigration process and the American dream for legitimate seekers.

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Excerpt from After the Border © Copyright 2023 Richard Lee

I discussed early the concept of one-sided immigration fraud and what we mean by one-sided marriage fraud. You find that people are sometimes fooled into believing that a marriage is good. Sometimes, people are desperate for love. These are often the people who are easily fooled. I have seen so many broken hearts where people genuinely believed it was love, no matter how many bad signs. They could not be convinced otherwise until it hit them square in the face.

When I first started, I was interviewing a couple. The woman had bad hygiene and was a heavy smoker. During our conversation, she admitted to having low self-esteem. She was so happy to have found a husband. Her husband was West African. He was attractive, well-dressed, and well-spoken. She thought he was in it for love, but in our conversation, you could tell she had doubts. Still, she was hopeful that she had won.

I interviewed them. Separated them and tried to determine if this marriage was legitimate. The U.S. spouse was adamant about the marriage and the fact that she loved him. I did not doubt that. Still, I did my best to see what kind of flaws there were. Maybe I was missing something.

What I learned is that they stayed apart during most weeks. He worked out of town and came home every other weekend. She understood and made the case that a lot of married couples have this arrangement. She admitted they had been intimate in the past, but not as much as she would like. When I finished the interview, I congratulated them, approved his permanent residence, and escorted them out the door. The female seemed a bit disturbed that I had questioned them at length about the marriage.

After the Border

As we went out the door, she asked for a business card and suggested she might contact my supervisor. I gave her my card and sent them on their way. I figured at some point I would hear about the complaint.

This was around 10 a.m. I went to lunch after the interview. When I returned, I received a call from the same woman. There was a great deal of background noise. She was crying and a bit hysterical. When I was able to talk and get her calmed down, she told me the story. After getting his legal residence that morning, the husband headed home. Somewhere on Interstate I-285, the perimeter around Atlanta, he decided to pull over and let her out of the car right on the interstate.

She told me he shoved her out of the car. He told her he had his green card and no longer needed her. So, he left her on the side of a busy interstate.

I passed the information on to fraud. As a Service Officer, I had closed the case. It had approved him. Based on her testimony. I could not just reverse that decision on the spot. Having spoken to local counsel, they recommended doing nothing more.

Aids Story

From 2004 to 2011, we (immigration officers) saw a lot of West Africans and South Africans coming into the country who were HIV positive. These individuals married U.S. citizens, and the U.S. citizens applied for benefits for them.

This happened frequently. Every officer in Atlanta had this happen on a weekly basis, oftentimes a daily occurrence, a case once a week, or sometimes two or three times a week. From 2004 to 2008, I was an adjudications officer directly involved in that process and adjudicated these cases: granting them or denying them. Rest assured, in the Atlanta office, we discussed this issue as officers. I’m sorry for the long dialogue, but it’s important for me to make sure and emphasize the importance of the issue.

Oftentimes, West African and South African males, along with South African women, would come in with HIV. But this is the typical story, one of many stories that I ran into. I had a West African male come into the immigration office. As I reviewed his case and started the adjudication process, I looked at his medical records. Now, mind you, every applicant who comes into the office must submit an I-693 medical exam for adjustment of status. On that medical exam, they must list any medical conditions they have. INS has different ranking types; for example, “Class A medical” have hepatitis. Maybe they have not taken all their shots for immunization. We must make sure that they’re medically sound to be in the country, for the most part. During this time, immigrants needed proof they were HIV negative; a HIV positive test could bar the applicant from coming into the country and staying in the country. Mind you, with anything in INS, there’s always a waiver; you can waive that HIV status in certain instances. And I’m not going to go into the overwhelming legal issues with waivers and all that stuff, but I’m going to give you the basics of it.

For HIV personnel, they had to be able to prove that they were being medically treated or had been medically counseled for HIV, making sure they knew and were aware of what the issues were with HIV and AIDS.

This West African male came into the country and married an African American female. This is common. I reviewed the case, and he’s HIV positive; he presents evidence that he’s gone to the local clinic, usually the county office or some medical facility, and got counseling or observation that he was being treated and counseled. He’s married to a U.S. citizen, an African-American woman. And so you ask them questions about their relationship. Some of the standard questions that we asked were discussed with the immigration officers.

We frequently asked, “Hey, are you guys planning on having children?”

And inevitably, the African American woman almost always said, “Yes, we’re planning on having kids.”

The West African man would always say, “No, I’m not planning on having kids because of HIV.”

I separated the husband and wife during the interview. One was sitting outside, and the other was speaking to me at my desk. You don’t want to ask these questions when they’re together. And I would always ask the West African man, I would say something like, “Have you told your spouse that you have HIV?” All the time, the men would respond, “No, I have not told her.”

I got this answer so frequently it was ridiculous: no, she has no idea that I am HIV positive. And the man would say something like, “Please, don’t tell her that I have HIV; it will ruin my marriage.”

And I would ask, “Are you using any type of contraceptive? Are you using protection?” And every time, the man would say, “Yes, I’m using condoms.”

And so, when I separated them, I would let him go outside and I would ask the African American female, “Do you use any kind of protection, or are you trying to get pregnant?”

Every time, the woman would say, we don’t use any protection. We’re trying to have kids, we want to have a baby together. And I would point toward the male outside, “So you don’t use condoms or birth control of any type?”

And she would say, “No, we don’t use anything. We’re trying to get pregnant.”

So, we would often discuss these cases with fellow officers, and we would not discuss them in a way where we talked about the individuals themselves or gave out names or anything like that because we’re not allowed to do that. We could talk about the issues in general. Each of us would be aghast. So, we would waive the fact that the individual had HIV and was not letting his or her spouse know. We were not allowed as officers to tell the U.S. citizen her husband is HIV positive. We are supposed to be protecting U.S. citizens, but we could not under the law disclose that she is married to a man who has HIV.

She’s sleeping with a man who has HIV, and they’re not using protection. Mind you, during this time in Georgia, we had the highest rate of African American female infection with HIV. It was rampant in the Georgia area. We knew this was going on, and we were by law not allowed to tell these women that these men had HIV.

This is disgusting; it’s unbelievable. When we raise this up the food chain to the higher-ups, they would tell us not to worry about it; that’s not our business. Our business is to protect Americans—but that’s not whom we protected.

It was around this time that we got word from the CDC that HIV was no longer a serious concern for the immigrants coming into this country. The policies came in during the Obama Administration, within a year or two, and said we should no longer be concerned about HIV. And it was no longer a thing that would require a waiver or to be concerned about. I will tell you that hands down, every officer that I talked to was shocked by this. We could not believe that the CDC, our government agency, had abandoned African American women in a time when African American women were getting HIV at a faster rate than any other group. We thought they didn’t care.

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