Sheriff: Ten People Faked Restaurant Robbery with Likely Motive to Get Green Cards

SeaTac restaurant
King County Sheriff's Office

A group of illegal migrants reported a daring restaurant robbery in King County, Washington, where “patrons were allegedly tied up, robbed of jewelry and two female members were said to be sexually assaulted.”

But the October 19 robbery at Bob’s Burgers n’ Teriyakis was just a daring scam by ten illegals to snatch U visas, green cards, and citizenship from the federal government, said county Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, who described the claimed robbery. “Today I can confirm to you; it was all a lie … Every employee present that evening, every customer participated in a deliberate hoax.”

She continued:

Not only is false reporting a crime, but in this case, concocting a violent takeover crime, where the suspects were allegedy armed, sets up the potential for some really bad things to happen … Deputies and detectives have been looking for that truck. What would’ve happened if we would’ve stopped the driver thinking they were a suspect in a very violent crime?

“I don’t recall a time where I’ve seen ten people band together to form a story and present it to individuals whose very job is to note consistencies and inconsistencies, whose very job it is to flesh out and flesh out the truth,” SeaTac Police Chief Jon Mattsen told Q13 Fox.

King County is a sanctuary jurisdiction, so it includes a growing population of illegals in service jobs. That population aids business owners and landlords because it pushes down wages and drives up rents for blue-collar Americans.

The owner of the restaurant described the alleged robbery to KOMO News on October 21:

The owner of Bob’s says her three employees and five customers were tied up by two men Saturday night, and at least one of them was holding a gun.

“My kid, customers, I don’t want them to get injured so I told him, if we have a robber coming give everything,” Sungsook Jun said.

It is unclear if the county will try to hand over the ten migrants to a federal agency for deportation.

The scam spotlights the growing fraud in the U visa program, which offers green cards and citizenship to people who testify against criminals in cases, such as sexual abuse of a child or spousal abuse. Each year, 10,000 U visas are given to people who claim to be victims of crimes, but the number of requests for U visas has skyrocketed as immigration lawyers have tried to guide their paying clients around the tighter enforcement rules set by President Donald Trump.

In 2016, the backlog for U visa requests was 64,000. The waiting list reached 250,000 by the end of 2019. The annual award of 10,000 U visas does not include the grant of U visas to the alleged victims’ spouses and children.

In June 2017, Breitbart News reported:

President Barack Obama’s deputies hugely expanded a little-known “crime visa” program to help roughly 140,000 illegal aliens obtain amnesty and U.S. citizenship.

The U visa program was created by the Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act within the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. It offers visas and eventually citizenship to illegal aliens who testify in court against criminals.

Supposedly, the program was limited to 10,000 visas per year. But Obama’s lax regulations encouraged a huge number of illegals to file for U visas — and also allowed many illegals to get residency and work permits years before they receive the actual U visa.

In 2009, 10,937 people applied for the visa. Six years later, 60,710 people applied, according to data provided by DHS to the Immigration Law Reform Institute.

In Obama’s first term, officials approved 63,000 visa requests. In his second four-year term, officials approved 78,637 U visas. That is a total of 141,921 visas — or 62,000 above the apparent level of 10,000 per year.

The formal rejection rate was low — averaging only 9 percent during Obama’s second term — although many applications remain undecided.

“The dirty little secret is that U-visa fraud and abuse is rampant nationwide, especially in sanctuary jurisdictions,” said Cody Brown, an attorney who represents victims of U visa fraud and who recently launched uvisafraud.com to track this growing problem. He continued:

The U-visa program is so easy to defraud without detection that the only thing surprising about this story is that these yokels found a way to screw it up. Most Americans have never even heard of the U-visa, but it is widely known in illegal immigrant circles. Turn on Spanish television and you’ll see ads for how to apply for a U-visa.

If you’ve already broken our law to enter our country, why wouldn’t you break one more to secure the promise of a new life?  Make up a story and secure for yourself and your entire family work permits, visas, Green Cards, citizenship, voting rights, and range of public benefits paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

The American people should know they are not safe. An illegal alien can secretly accuse you of a crime and have it adjudicated secretly by USCIS. You will never be notified, you will have no opportunity to cross examine your accuser, and you will have no presumption of innocence. If you wind up in a criminal proceeding, your judge may not even allow you to inquire into your accuser’s immigration status. The system is rigged.

A September 2019 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency:

has a referral process for suspected fraud in self-petitions, which may result in a referral for criminal investigation. According to agency data, from fiscal year 2014 to March 2019, USCIS created 2,208 fraud referral leads and cases that involved a VAWA selfpetition. Total leads and cases increased from 198 in fiscal year 2014 to 801 in fiscal year 2019 as of March 2019, an increase of about 305 percent.

The fraud is sometimes conducted on a large scale, according to the GAO:

Our analysis of data on the number of times unique addresses were used in filing self-petitions showed, for instance, 37,201 filings had addresses used at least 10 times each from fiscal year 2009 to January 2019. In some cases, an address was used hundreds of times—in a group of 6,302 self-petitions, there were 31 instances in which addresses were used 100 or more times. Table 2 provides examples of multiple uses of addresses, which we selected for illustrative purposes from among all the multiple uses of addresses we identified. It shows, for example, in the last row, that there was one unique address that was used 845 times in self-petition filings, all of which were separate filings. Thus, the total number of self-petitions involved with this address was 845.

Moreover, this hugely valuable prize of citizenship creates a temptation for people to allow crime to take place so they can report those crimes to get green cards. In October, a Colorado lawyer tried to defend his illegal-immigrant client from a rape charge by saying the victim’s mother had a hidden incentive:

Hess declined to say whether [his client, [Ever] Valencia is in the country legally. He said the victim is a U.S. citizen. Her mother is in the country illegally, Hess said, and will probably apply from a crime victim’s visa, or U visa.

Because the victim is a minor, her mother can show she cooperated with the investigation and prosecutors and could receive the U visa for which her daughter — the victim in this case — would be eligible, Hess said. Hess said his Glenwood Springs law practice does extensive immigration work and deals with U visas regularly.
“If you’re a victim of domestic violence or other qualifying crimes — and certainly sexual assault is one — you can seek a U visa,” Hess explained. “The motivation to get a U visa is a strong theme underlying this case.”

On August 2, officials at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced a reform to curb suspected fraud:

As the number of U visa petitions submitted increased, this process became burdensome on both agencies and often did not impact ICE’s decisions. Now, under the ICE Directive 11005.2, ICE officers and attorneys will review the totality of the circumstances, including any favorable or adverse factors, and any federal interest(s) implicated and decide whether a Stay of Removal or terminating proceedings is appropriate.

ICE will exercise its discretion when determining whether to grant a [no-deportation] Stay of Removal request based on the totality of circumstances, including consideration of the underlying assistance provided by a U visa petitioner to law enforcement. ICE no longer exempts classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. The revised guidance also allows for Stay of Removal requests to be granted to U visa petitioners who are assisting ICE investigations.

The deport-while-waiting rule allows officials to deport applicants, so reducing the incentive for migrants to make false claims about crimes in order to get a work permit.

Immigration lawyers defended the fraud-ridden program:

Eileen Blessinger, a Falls Church, Va.-based immigration attorney told The Hill, “This is going to have a chilling effect [because] by applying, you’re essentially reporting yourself to ICE but now there’s a risk that ICE might pick you up.”

Blessinger makes a point to The Hill that this legal move to limit immigrants from applying for a U visa isn’t the first change we’ve seen. About a year ago, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stopped waiving the $585 application fee for anyone with a prior criminal history or immigration violations, such as unlawful employment or aiding an entry of another individual.

“What we see here with new ICE policies that impact the U visa program is that some of these changes really contravene the purpose that congress create these protections for,” Cecelia Friedman Levin, senior policy counsel at ASISTA Immigration Assistance, told The Hill.

The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles is now suing the government to widen the U visa route into the United States, according to Spectrum News:

In 2015, [claimed victim] RMG said the abuse escalated when her ex-husband threatened to kill her children, pushing her to finally call  police despite her immigration status.

“For many years I was threatened, and he threatened only me. But when he threatened my kids, I decided to report him and not be quiet anymore,” RMG said.

She said she called and worked with police to protect her family. But it came at the cost of her becoming a single mother with no income and identifying herself to law enforcement.

It’s experiences like hers that the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles said qualifies undocumented immigrants to apply for a U Visa that would allow them to receive a work permit and to potentially gain residency in the U.S.

Government officials are also trying to reduce the growing fraud by foreign graduates seeking to get work permits for white-collar jobs:

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