How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Accused immigration scam operators enrolled foreign 'students' who didn't go to school

Vocational Schools-Fraud

Damian Dovarganes/AP

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations agents raid the Prodee University, Neo America Language School installations in Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Three people were arrested on charges of running four sham vocational schools in Southern California that issued fraudulent paperwork enabling foreigners to stay in the country and netted as much as $6 million a year. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Three men were arrested Wednesday in connection with an alleged "pay-to-stay" immigration scam that involved four Los Angeles-area trade schools, three in Koreatown and one in Alhambra.

U.S. Department of Justice officials said the schools' owner and two employees enrolled foreign students for a fee in exchange for student visa documents that let them stay in the country - although they knew the "students" had no intention of attending classes.

Investigators estimate that the operation took in as much as $6 million a year in "tuition," with those who enrolled paying as much as $1,800 for six months. According to federal officials, as many 2,000 people were issued fraudulent student visa documents through the scam.

The four schools listed in the federal indictment are Prodee University/Neo-America Language School; Walter Jay M.D. Institute, an Educational Center; the American College of Forensic Studies; and Likie Fashion and Technology College, which is in Alhambra.


Landlords say their hands are tied on so-called "birthing houses"

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Gabriel Bouys/Getty Images

Cops who investigate so-called "birthing house" operations say it's typical for operators to use rental properties. The California Apartment Association says there's only so much landlords can legally do to keep tabs on tenants' activities.

A federal investigation into so-called “birthing houses” had federal agents searching apartment complexes in Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties last week.

The bust has called attention to the role that rental properties play in many of these operations, which cater to pregnant foreign women who wish to deliver their babies in the United States.

Federal affidavits show 12 units were searched last week in one apartment complex in Irvine; 11 units searched in another complex in Rowland Heights; six units in yet another.
Cops who investigate birthing houses say the operators typically use rental properties. Lt. Roy Nakamura of the Arcadia Police Department, says a detective has been assigned to identify birthing houses, and has uncovered more than a dozen of them in recent years.


In immigration news: Less federal-local cooperation, bill aims to stop immigrant tax benefits, teen border guides held, more

U.S. Immigration And Customs Officials Deport Undocumented El Salvadorians

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Immigration officials say recent limits set by state and local governments on who cops can hold for deportation are creating problems for federal officers, and that more people with criminal records are being released.

Immigration Officials See Danger as Local Cooperation Wanes - ABC News Immigration officials complain that recent limits set by state and local governments on who cops can hold for deportation are creating problems and endangering federal officers. From the story: "In the first eight months of 2014, immigration officers filed roughly 105,000 requests for local enforcement agencies to hold immigrants, but local agencies declined 8,800 of the requests, according to data provided by immigration authorities."

Judge's new order makes it harder for Obama to restart immigration moves - Los Angeles Times A new sticking point concerns about 100,000 applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, approved by administration officials before U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen put President Obama's immigration plan on hold last month. From the story: "Hanen said in a filing this week that he wanted Justice Department lawyers to 'fully explain' why they didn’t mention the three-year permits before last week."


In immigration news: Executive action remains on hold, ICE arrests, smaller 'border surge' expected this year, more

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Joe Gratz/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

The block on President Obama's executive immigration plan is to remain in place at least 10 more days, according to a federal judge's decision on Monday.

Texas federal judge leaves block on Obama immigration plan in place - Reuters The temporary block on President Obama's executive immigration plan will continue in place at least 10 more days, according to a decision Monday by a federal judge in Texas. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville said in his order "that the court will not rule on any pending motions at least until a court hearing set for March 19." Hanen issued a preliminary injunction putting the plan on hold last month.

Judge Blocking Obama on Immigration Has Reputation for Fairness in Texas - New York Times On federal judge Andrew S. Hanen of Brownsville, Texas, whose decision has temporarily held up the Obama administration's immigration plan. From the story: "Advocates for immigrants who want to see the president’s initiatives go forward have portrayed Judge Hanen, 61, as a right-wing crank. But in Texas he is known as a conservative but fair-minded jurist with keen analytical intelligence — and a jovial sense of humor, even when he is in black robes."


In immigration news: No reform prospects, 'venue shopping' in immigration lawsuit, camera in border bathroom, more

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The 844-page comprehensive Senate immigration reform bill that was filed in April 2013, in a very different political climate. The idea of a broad, bipartisan approach to immigration reform has been set aside in Congress, at least for now.

Immigration reform looks dead in this Congress - Politico Some in Congress have talked of Senate GOP leaders bringing back the immigration reform issue, after the Department of Homeland Security was funded without limits on President Obama's immigration plan. But "few within the GOP expect any kind of immigration debate in the Senate in the foreseeable future. The issue has been relegated to the back burner as Republicans instead focus on the budget, trade deals and, possibly, tax reform."

California Border Patrol Supervisor Arrested Over Bathroom Camera - Reuters U.S. Border Patrol supervisor Armando Gonzalez, 46, is being held on charges that he hid a camera in the women's bathroom at the San Diego border patrol station. Gonzales had been under investigation since his arrest Jan. 9 by police. From the story: "San Diego police had responded to the border station after receiving a report that a camera had been discovered in the women's restroom, according to a police statement."