Friday, March 21, 2008

DHS Agent Arrested for Raping Green Card Applicant

On March 11, New York prosecutors arrested Isaac R. Baichu, a 46-year old immigration official, after he extorted sex from a young Colombian woman seeking a green card. Three days after her green card interview, Mr. Baichu began making personal phone calls to the young woman's cellphone. Nina Bernstein from the New York Times reports:

He hinted, she said, at his power to derail her life and deport her relatives, alluding to a brush she had with the law before her marriage. He summoned her to a private meeting. And at noon on Dec. 21, in a parked car on Queens Boulevard, he named his price — not realizing that she was recording everything on the cellphone in her purse. “I want sex,” he said on the recording. “One or two times. That’s all. You get your green card. You won’t have to see me anymore.” She reluctantly agreed to a future meeting. But when she tried to leave his car, he demanded oral sex “now,” to “know that you’re serious.” And despite her protests, she said, he got his way.

The victim took the sixteen-minute recording to the police, who arrested and pressed charges against Mr. Baichu on March 11. He has been released on $15,000 bond, and has been suspended with pay by the Department of Homeland Security. The victim still has not received a green card. The Department of Homeland Security regularly receives complaints of employee misconduct, but reports a significant backlog in pending complaints.

Bernstein's article breaking the story illustrated "the vast power of low-level immigration law enforcers, ... a growing desperation on the part of immigrants seeking legal status ... [and] the difficulty and danger of making a complaint, even in the rare case when abuse of power may have been caught on tape."

Human Rights USA's Refugee Project Director called the case "just one example of the failings of a poorly managed agency that operates under a statutory and regulatory scheme that fosters impunity and places non-citizens in a position of acute vulnerability to abuse."

Please go here for more information on this case.