Sunday, January 1, 2012

Commentary: DOS & USCIS Ignoring Fraud in Ethiopian Adoption

Though he doubts he'll be listened to, saying,  "[a]s has been the traditional attitude towards commentators from African countries, critical opinions from natives may be dismissed by the West as boorish and ignored," commentator Yosef Yacob says the Department of State and U.S. Customs & Immigration is too cavalier in approving adoptions from Ethiopia:
Despite the documented facts demonstrating fraud and misrepresentation, the unsettling status quo persists with superficial changes by the USCIS and the Department of State devoid of any effective protocols to ferret out the suspected racketeers in the adoption of Ethiopian children by good intentioned Americans. While, both USCIS and Department of State acknowledge patterns that “…suggest possible malfeasance or unethical behavior in some cases”, according to the USCIS “…no cases from Ethiopia have been denied based on findings of fraud, and in fact, the vast majority of cases are approved”.

Is the Ethiopian community imagining fraud where none exists, is the international media fabricating events, is the video tape evidence of admissions, deceptions and misrepresentations by perpetrators fabricated, is the finding of wide spread fraud by the Ethiopian government insincere, or is one expected to ignore the distress echoed by American ethicists, Ethiopian mothers, the adoptees, and American adoptive parents as fictitious?

Not withstanding the surrounding significant moral, legal, ethical, legal, and social issues and the recurring plea for notice by the Ethiopian intellectual and faith communities, what is worrisome is the seeming complacency by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service and the State Department.
Ostensibly, rather than a serious effort to double means to eliminate the fraudulent schemes, the USCIS and State Department seem to trivialize the repeated allegations of adoption scams thus further clouding the integrity and transparency of the adoption process in Ethiopia.
So are we listening?  Or will "critical opinions from natives . . . be dismissed?"


Anonymous said...

The first NOID was issued at the end of November.

Here's what Unicef said to The Atlantic Monthly in the link to that story you provided a few weeks ago:

"Still, UNICEF's Doug Webb said that the environment in which these abuses took place has changed dramatically in the past year. "There are people in government who are very concerned about this, but we've turned a big corner here. The situation is over where alleged abuses were ignored, swept under the carpet; where nobody was listening and there was too much money involved."

"In many ways," Webb said, "that story is done. The climate has changed so much. Now it's discussed more openly. The government at the highest levels is speaking out against abuses in the system."

I think Ethiopians are being listened to.

As Michelle Bond, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs said during a media briefing on National Adoption Day in 2009, "The situations where we get very concerned around the world are when we can see that there’s clear evidence of a problem, and the country where it’s occurring is not taking that problem seriously – not investigating, not prosecuting. That would be a matter of concern..."

The GOE is taking this seriously and is acting.

DOS and USCIS have been going over dozens of cases with a fine-toothed comb at the Nairobi Field Office and they will continue to do so. Birth families are being interviewed. DNA tests are being done.

I see a clear disconnect between what DOS and USCIS are doing right now and what Yosef Yacob is seeing.

Sharon said...

Well said, Anonymous. DOS and USCIS are not complacent about adoption fraud in any country, which is why they've ended programs in Vietnam and elsewhere. Many, many Ethiopian cases are being sent for additional investigation by DOS; some are being denied. Nobody is rushing through the process.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that even when USCIS or DOS suspect there is fraud - it is very hard to prove and NOIDS can be overturned because that burden of proof is so high. At least this was the case with Vietnam. Almost all NOIDS that were issued were overturned. So it seems that at present there is little USCIS or DOS can actually do except shut down a program.

In the case of Vietnam - it happened that the MOU between the two countries was expiring just as DOS and USCIS were getting very concerned. So it was not renewed.

Phil said...

USCIS Service Center and the National Benefit Center Locations: Each Service Center location accepts and processes certain USCIS forms and immigration cases. For example, the Nebraska Service Center generally processes the N-400 form application for people who are applying for U.S. citizenship. If you are you applying for a Green Card the service center will vary depending on the circumstances of how you are filing to obtain your Green Card.