A Chinese woman who pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges stemming from her operation of a ‘birth tourism’ business in California awaits imminent sentencing in the first case of its kind, according to reports.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told CNN the indictments are the “first-ever” brought by the U.S. government against a birth tourism enterprise and its customers.
#ICEintheNews: “The indictments are the ‘first-ever’ federal criminal charges the American government has brought against birth tourism businesses and customers, ICE said.” (Via @CNN) https://t.co/inNkRbJ5vm
— ICE (@ICEgov) December 16, 2019
“The operation Dongyuan Li ran, You Win USA Vacation Services Corp., coached families on what to say in their visa interviews, created ways for them to bypass immigration controls and housed them in upscale apartments in California for up to three months,” CNN reports. “In two years, she had received $3 million in international wire transfers from China, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.”
Li ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and one count of visa fraud, ICE announced earlier this year.
“Li was one of 19 defendants named in a series of indictments unsealed earlier this year which resulted from an massive probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles and IRS Criminal Investigation,” ICE said in a press release in September.
“Li is the first of the charged operators of birth tourism businesses to plead guilty. The remaining defendants either are pending trial or are fugitives.”
You Win USA reportedly assisted over 500 Chinese clients looking to secure birthright citizenship for their children, charging between $40,000 and $80,000 per customer.
“This was extremely bold,” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Daniel Showalter told CNN. “She said it was easy to fool us. She had nothing but disdain for the US.”
“We do need to send the message that defrauding our immigration system for profit will not be tolerated and if you do so, you do so at your own peril,” he warned. “We will prosecute you and seize your proceeds, bank accounts, vehicles, houses.”
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