By Michael W. Cutler, October 25, 2021
I recently wrote an article titled, “Biden Administration Plans to Protect Immigration Fraudsters,” which was predicated on a Washington Times article published nearly two weeks prior.
In point of fact, the 9/11 Commission, to which I provided testimony, identified immigration fraud as a key method of entry and embedding for foreign terrorists and was the prediction for an article I wrote on the topic in 2017.
Given the dangers such immigration fraud poses to national security and public safety, the Trump administration created a special unit to seek out aliens who committed fraud to acquire U.S. citizenship.
It is immensely disturbing that the Biden administration and Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas would seek to not only apparently dismantle the fraud unit created by the Trump administration, but actually shield immigration fraudsters from detection.
My previous article provided specific examples of terrorists and spies who sought U.S. citizenship to facilitate their nefarious goals. One of those examples related to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release from April, 2021, about a federal immigration official from Nigeria who was charged with illegally obtaining U.S. citizenship under a false identity.
The information contained in the DOJ press release provides, what I believe is, the likely motivation Mayorkas had for seeking to shield immigration fraudsters from detection. However, we must remember the defendant Ifemembi still enjoys the presumption of innocence until the prosecution is completed.
Here is how the DOJ press release began:
An immigration services officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was arrested this morning in Maryland on a federal charge that alleges he obtained U.S. citizenship under a false name.
The defendant is charged under the false name of “Karl Nwabugwu Odike Ifemembi,” but the criminal complaint in this case notes that his real name is Modestus Nwagubwu Ifemembi, originally of Nigeria. Ifemembi, 48, who previously resided in Aliso Viejo, but relocated to Rockville, Maryland, last year, has worked for USCIS for seven years. Ifemembi is charged in the complaint with one count of unlawfully procuring U.S. citizenship.
Ifemembi made false statements on various government forms to obtain U.S. citizenship, as well as employment with USCIS, according to the affidavit in support of the complaint, which was unsealed this morning.
The press release went on to explain:
After being granted asylum, Ifemembi attended the University of California, Berkeley, which granted him a bachelor’s degree in 2004, and then obtained J.D. from the University of Oregon, School of Law. Then, in late 2010, “Karlos Mourfy” applied for U.S. citizenship and asked to change his name to Ifemembi – requests that were granted in May 2011. Two years later, in 2013, Ifemembi was hired by USCIS, according to the affidavit.
During the investigation into Ifemembi, federal investigators traveled to Africa – including his hometown of Akuma, Nigeria – and searched his Orange County residence in 2019, obtaining evidence about his true identity, including baptism, school and financial records, the affidavit states.
Mayorkas’ checkered past was the focus of an article I wrote in 2020 which documented how he had been investigated by the Office of Inspector General when he was director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the Obama administration. Mayorkas was found to have acted improperly by demanding USCIS employees “get to yes” and approve applications, even when such approval would have been inappropriate.
Now let’s connect the dots and examine the potential link between the arrest of Mr. Ifemembi and Mayorkas’ ongoing effort to shield immigration fraudsters from detection and consequences for their crimes. (Make no mistake, naturalization fraud is a felony under 18 U.S. Code § 1425).
Additionally, providing false documents and making false statements in conjunction with immigration applications are also felonies.
18 U.S. Code § 1546: Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents
18 U.S. Code § 1001: Statements or entries generally
It was during Mayorkas’ tenure in the Obama administration that Mr. Ifemembi was granted political asylum, lawful immigrant status, and ultimately, U.S. citizenship. It was during Mr. Mayorkas’ tenure at USCIS that Mr. Ifemembi was hired as an employee of that agency.
Mr. Ifemembi worked at USCIS for seven years.
According to the DOJ press release, the investigation that disclosed the allegations of fraud were conducted in 2019, during the Trump administration.
If Mr. Mayorkas takes his responsibilities and oath of office seriously, an audit must be conducted to determine who approved the defendant’s application each step of the way. The process by which he was granted a security clearance to perform his duties must also be reviewed.
Finally, a serious audit must be conducted into every case that Mr. Ifemembi handled to make certain he did not improperly approve applications — especially given the connection between immigration fraud and national security.
Remember — Ifemembi had a law degree. He probably could have earned more money practicing immigration law or other forms of law than he could earn as an employee of USCIS. Working for USCIS also exposed him to the possibility of having his alleged fraud being discovered. The obvious question is why he would assume that risk for less money than he might have earned by not working for the government. This suggests a serious possibility that he “earned” money by acting in a corrupt manner. The other — and even more disturbing — possibility which must be explored is that he could have used his position at USCIS to enable terrorists or criminals to game the immigration system to acquire lawful status in the U.S.
Consider that a 2011 report was issued by the House Intelligence and Counterterrorism Subcommittee on the growing presence of terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria, Ifemembi’s country of birth.
Just months ago, the Brookings Institution published a report on rising jihadi terrorism in Africa in the 20 years since 9/11.
In law enforcement there is a saying that if you find a coincidence, keep looking because you are probably on to something. That Mayorkas would seek to protect fraudsters just months after one of his former employees at USCIS was arrested for naturalization fraud is one hell of a coincidence!
Mike is a Senior Special Agent, INS (Ret.)