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Joe Guzzardi Flying through loopholes of U.S. immigration policy

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Joe Guzzardi

Posted: Saturday, February 11, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:39 am, Sat Feb 11, 2012.

After 25 years of studying federal immigration policy, I'm surprised when I stumble upon a new wrinkle. During a quarter of a century on the immigration beat, I've seen almost everything.

But when I learned that in early November, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Karena Chuang on charges that she had brought more than a dozen students from Egypt, Sri Lanka and Taiwan to her La Verne-based flight school, I was dumbfounded. What shocked me isn't that someone foiled United States immigration law again — that happens multiple times every day. My dismay came when I realized that I had never heard of the visa Chuang used to bring potential terrorists into the United States, the M-1. All the other visas from the alphabet soup list are well-known to me: the A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, and W. Only X, Y and Z don't have their own special designations — yet.

The ICE press release indicated that Chuang had little trouble in carrying out her scheme. Beginning in 2006, Chuang helped foreign nationals obtain visas to attend flight schools approved to train foreign students when the students actually intended to enroll at her Blue Diamond Aviation which is not approved. Chuang recruited students by offering lower tuition and a shorter training program than those offered by the authorized flight schools.

The first logical question is to ask why the federal government allows foreign nationals from any nation to obtain pilot training in the United States. Despite everything that we apparently did not learn from 9/11, when Florida flight schools trained several terrorists, potential students from overseas have to satisfy a simple three-step process to get their wings. First, the student must apply to a U.S. certified training school. Second, if he meets the requirements (probably easy to do) , the flight school issues an I-20 form that certifies the alien is eligible for the student visa. The I-20 is then used to apply for an M-1 visa.

Chuang easily circumvented the rules. According to the affidavit supporting the criminal charges against her, Chuang fraudulently applied for I-20s from government-certified flight schools on behalf of foreign students by pretending to be their cousin and, in some instances, paid the application fees to those other schools. After the certified flight schools issued the I-20s, Chuang allegedly directed the foreign students to take the forms to the U.S. embassy or consulate in their country to apply for M-1 visas. Once safely in the United States, the students enrolled at Blue Diamond Aviation.

Blue Diamond is not an isolated incident. In 2010, a flight school in El Cajon pleaded guilty to creating fake visa documents for foreign students. Anglo American Aviation's owners pleaded guilty to hiring illegal immigrants who posed as instructors. Also in 2010, the Massachusetts TJ Aviation Flight Academy owner Thiago DeJesus trained 34 of his Brazilian countrymen before being charged.

If convicted, Chuang could face maximum charges of up to 10 years in prison, a slap on the wrist when weighed against the damages that her involvement in visa fraud could have led to.

On Capitol Hill, legislators demand immigration reform. Their concept of reform, however, is to lift the caps on H-1B worker visas. True reform should begin with a massive investigation into the link between legal immigration and visa fraud that gives scam artists an open opportunity to jeopardize national security.

Joe Guzzardi has written editorial opinion columns since 1986. He retired from the Lodi United School District in 2008. Reach him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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  • trista aquino posted at 11:37 pm on Fri, Feb 17, 2012.

    trista aquino Posts: 119

    Hey which visa did Loren and Wesley have? Oh wait, thats right.....they were Born w/ the right to be here and terrorize the valley. For over a decade.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 3:01 pm on Sun, Feb 12, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866


    Are we to conclude you no longer think the White man is responsible for all the ills of the world?

  • Brian Dockter posted at 2:42 pm on Sun, Feb 12, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    Alex wrote:

    Many of your rants, maybe not this one, appear far more racist than her's, especially when they involve Arabs or Muslims.

    -See Alex,
    Now you're applying her logic . You've fallen right into her trap.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 2:31 pm on Sun, Feb 12, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866


    It is refreshing Ms. Bobin has finally agreed with Joe. She has a track record of disagreeing with him most of the time. If we were to apply her logic, that means he's rarely correct. As ridiculous as this sounds that's how she thinks.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 2:26 pm on Sun, Feb 12, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866


    It is rare for her to agree with Joe. She's made it quite clear on many occasions he's a racist BECAUSE he opposes illegal immigration from Latin American countries. If we were to use her logic he must also be racist to oppose illegal immigration from other countries. Thus, applying her logic again, she must be a racist too.

    Ms. Bobin:

    I welcome all to this nation as long as they go through the proper channels to become a citizen. And that also means they have to meet the qualifications. I don't know how that makes me bigotted. Also, do you have some evidence terrorist AREN'T RECRUITING Latin Americans. I know I'm a racist in your eyes since I would dare to point out it might disqualify them from entry.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 1:53 pm on Sun, Feb 12, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Mr. Docktor is a non-partisan bigot, with the exception of those of the Aryan "race."

  • Alex Kennedy posted at 12:48 pm on Sun, Feb 12, 2012.

    Alex Posts: 215

    Brian, why are you so obsessed with Ms. Bobin? Even when you agree with her you seem to slam her. Many of your rants, maybe not this one, appear far more racist than her's, especially when they involve Arabs or Muslims.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 10:46 am on Sun, Feb 12, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    I would like to point out the open border policy many liberals advocate here with Mexico is also a threat to our national security. It is becoming more and more common to have people from the Middle East entering this country here via Mexico with the help of the Coyotes or other human smuggling organizations. On many occasions they are payed handsomely. How many of these Middle Easterners have attended flight schools here I don't know. And how many of these Middle Easterners
    have payed Mexicans to attend flight schools so they can be used as pawns I don't know either. This is another story that should be covered.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 10:22 am on Sun, Feb 12, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    Thanks for the great article Joe. The vast majority of those who know you understand you are not opposed to immigration. Just illegal immigration. Curious Ms. Bobin took your side on this. I would speculate it is because none of these students were from Latin America. Because we know how many times she has called you racist because of your opposition to illegal immigrants from there. I could go as far as saying she is racist because of where these students are from. But that would be a ridiculous accusation.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 1:47 pm on Sat, Feb 11, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Excellent column on an issue that should be of great concern to our national security. After reading a few news sources on this incident, I was only able to learn that "security officials" at the US Embassy in Cairo learned of this through interviews with two "students" who admitted that they were going to attend Chuang's school and not the school they stated on their applications for the M-1 visa.

    What other information have you learned, Mr. Guzzardi, about the uncovering of this woman's scheme? From what I read, it seems other similar schemes have also occured in California.

    And good question - why is the US government still allowing foreign nationals (private citizens) to attend flight instruction schools in the US? This practice needs to stop.


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