My coach once imparted some words of wisdom to his crop of new foreign athletes, “Anything you do reflects not only on you, but on the university and me as a coach, your family, and most of all, your country. You all are ambassadors of your respective countries. Therefore, proceed and conduct yourselves as such!”
I have been following the saga of the St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) former deputy consul general in New York (NY), Edson Augustus, and the reason given for his recall. As the government puts it, he acted outside the scope of his employment and is inimical to the consulate general and government and people of SVG.
However, I was taken aback when Senator Camillo Gonsalves, the minister of foreign affairs, stated, “We know that he was charging them,” and, “The ones we have confirmed so far are in the neighbourhood of five to six thousand US dollars a pop.” Furthermore, I was bewildered when the good senator explained that Mr Augustus did not break the laws of SVG. Really?
By the way, Camillo, if you are charging someone US$5,000 to $6,000 for a service that you are not supposed to charge them for as deputy consul general, what is that called? Is it called “being enterprising?” Also, is this in any way a violation of the United States immigration laws?
Please, Mr Foreign Affairs Minister, tell me and the world, in what US immigration category did these out-of-status persons qualify for a green card? Was it family based, employment based, special classes or the humanitarian programs?
Recently, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo Ferrer lamented after charging six defendants, “The immigration schemes alleged in these cases targeted the perceived, but oftentimes real, vulnerabilities of immigrants.” Furthermore, Special Agent Alysa Erichs added, “These individuals will prey on their victims’ vulnerabilities, and in the end no one wins.”
So, let me ask the foreign affairs minister again, under which category did these vulnerable victims qualify for a green card? Also, is this in anyway a violation of the United States immigration laws or laws on fraud? Moreover, does SVG have laws about fraud? Do the SVG diplomatic and or civil service have rules or laws about fraud?
I highly doubt anyone was going to walk up to Mr Augustus on the streets of NY and give him thousands of dollars for a green card without Mr Augustus having a perceived status position or him being an attorney. Since Mr Augustus is not an attorney, much less a US immigration attorney, do you know what his perceived status position is? SVG deputy consul general in New York City (NYC).
Let’s stop beating around the bush and sugar coating the term “out-of-status.” If you are out of status, you are illegal in the USA, unless you have a pending immigration case. Therefore, was the deputy consul general Mr Edson Augustus violating US immigration laws? Or was he using his position as deputy consul general to prey on the victims’ vulnerabilities?
Dear, Mr Foreign Affairs Minister, in my opinion fraud is fraud, no matter where it occurs, NYC or SVG! Is it fraud? You decide! Better yet, let the people decide!
On another note, did the deputy consul general at any time circumvent or attempt to circumvent the procedure for obtaining a SVG passport?
Peace and justice and get real.