There are probably lots more fake crimes committed to get victim visas that don’t get reported as such, but this story doesn’t avoid the criminal’s scheme. The “robber” turned out to be a juvenile family member who has since relocated to Mexico from Marin County, where the altercation took place.
The government doles out 10,000 U Visas annually, and the ill-considered policy is a massive fraud magnet. (See my 2007 article, Victim Visas: How America Stupidly Rewards Misfortune and Fraud.)
Seriously, is there a dumber idea than for Washington to offer a gold-plated visa to anyone who claims to be a crime victim? The fraud magnet aspect has been noticed in the House, where Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) has introduced the U Visa Reform Act of 2013, H.R. 463.
She observed, “While a criminal act against any individual in this country is inexcusable and reprehensible regardless of immigration status, it is not good immigration policy to staple green cards to police reports for those in the country illegally.”
Following are Black’s remarks in the House when she introduced the bill in February:
Here’s the fraud story from Marin County, which used to be a nice place:
San Rafael woman accused of staging robbery against herself to obtain visa, Marin Independent Journal, March 23, 2013
A San Rafael woman was arrested on allegations she staged an armed robbery against herself so she could get a crime victim’s visa to stay in the country.
Josselin Yuliana Rodas, 29, was booked into Marin County Jail on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, child endangerment and filing a false police report. Her bail was set at $75,000.
San Rafael police are also seeking charges against the teenager who allegedly robbed Rodas at her request. The juvenile, who has since left the country, is a relative of Rodas, said San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher.
The robbery was reported Jan. 4 on Belvedere Street in the Canal neighborhood. Rodas and another woman said it happened after they left a nearby market with Rodas’ 16-month-old child.
The women said the robber approached while they were putting the baby and the groceries in their car. The robber demanded their purses and struck Rodas in the head with a handgun.
The attacker hit the other woman in the knee with the gun during the scuffle.
The women said the robber ripped both their purses from them and also tore a necklace off one of the women.
Rodas suffered a welt and cut on the head, and the other woman suffered bruising to her knee. Medics treated them at the scene.
The baby was not injured.
The women described the robber as 6 feet or 6-foot-2 and muscular. They said he was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with his face covered, and they were unable to provide police with a racial or ethnic description.
As police continued to investigate the case in the ensuing weeks, they developed information the story might be false, Rohrbacher said.
Investigators learned that Rodas had received a notice from immigration authorities that she would have to leave the United States by a certain date.
Police suspect that Rodas and the teenage relative conspired to stage the robbery so Rodas could obtain a so-called “U visa.” The U visa allows victims of certain violent crimes, and their family members, to remain in the country while they help authorities secure a conviction against the perpetrator.
Police arrested Rodas on Thursday evening at her residence in the Canal area.
Rohrbacher said police are asking the district attorney’s office to consider a robbery charge in addition to the other crimes because Rodas allegedly planned the robbery and there was a real victim.
The woman who was robbed along with Rodas was apparently unaware of the alleged plot, Rohrbacher said.
The father of the baby will keep custody of the toddler and the couple’s other children.
Rohrbacher said Rodas and the teenager are the only suspected conspirators, but the investigation is continuing.
The case was under review Friday at the district attorney’s office.
Rodas’ lawyer, Antonia Stainbrook, could not be reached for comment.
Sharon Rummery, a San Francisco-based spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the government approves a maximum of about 10,000 U visas a year.
Applicants must obtain a letter from the investigating police agency that confirms they are helping the case, Rummery said. She said she had no statistics on how often U visa applicants report nonexistent or contrived crimes.
“We have adjudicators who go over these applications thoroughly,” she said. “Those who receive U visas have been terribly victimized, and their help has gone toward getting a person who might victimize others … off the street.”