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White House ‘Champion of Change’ Sentenced for Immigration Fraud

An immigration activist the Obama White House once honored as a “Champion of Change” embodying “the spirit of Cesar Chavez’s legacy” has been sentenced to probation for her role in deceiving immigration authorities on behalf of a foreign national.

Bonnie Monique Youn, an immigration lawyer, was sentenced last week to two years probation, ordered to pay a $5,245 fine and to close her law office after pleading guilty to charges stemming from her efforts to submit a false adjustment of status application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for a Korean national. Youn is also precluded from practicing law for two years.

“Youn is an immigration attorney and has a thorough familiarity with immigration rules yet she advised an alien to fraudulently file an application with immigration services claiming to be employed by an entity she controlled,” U. S. Attorney John Horn said in a statement.

“Her sentence and prohibition to practice law for two years are appropriate punishment for submitting false information to United States Immigration authorities,” he added.

As recently as her indictment in 2014, the White House featured Youn as a “Champions of Change” for immigration reform, praising her as a lawyer who “has worked tirelessly to provide a voice for immigrants and Asian American & Pacific Islander communities.”

The White House page featuring Youn is no longer available online.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Youn filed an application to adjust status for an unnamed Korean client based on the client’s employment with Asian American Educational Foundation of Georgia (AAEFG). The application claimed the client worked as an accountant for AAEFG in 2006-07 and then again in 2010.

When federal agents interviewed Youn’s client at a hair products business in Louisiana, the agents observed the client reading notes. The client admitted to the agents that Youn and Youn’s paralegal had written the notes for the interview so that the she could keep the story straight. The client, however, had in fact never worked for AAEFG or even lived in Georgia.

“Immigration fraud presents a serious threat to the national security of our country,” Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta Nick S. Annan said in a statement. “Illegal schemes like this not only undermine the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system, but they create potential security vulnerabilities while also cheating deserving immigrants of benefits they rightfully deserve.”

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