Thai Corruption Exported To America
My Thai wife and I took an extended trip to Los Angeles, California and met a number of Thais during our stay. Almost every Thai I met was involved in some sort of corruption, and had been for some time. In my Midwestern city I know many people, most are Americans, although some are here from other countries including some Thais. Among these people not one single person is involved in anything like I discovered in Los Angeles. Could this just be an LA problem? Perhaps it is, but I think not.
Los Angeles, California is huge. The Metro area posts a population of about 25 million with just about every nationality one can think of represented here. Thais are present in large numbers within a section of Hollywood officially named Thai Town, an unremarkable area that is distinguished from the rest of the city by Thai businesses including a smallish grocery store. (We have bigger and better Asian grocery stores in our city, according to my wife) I have to say that I was disappointed with Thai Town. It really was nothing like Thailand. My expectations were to discover a small slice of Bangkok resplendent with the “gee whiz” eye candy and that incomparable ambiance. What I discovered was a dirty, drab area with Thai people that never smile and really bad Thai food (confirmed by the Mrs.).
The Thai population is estimated at about 100,000 in LA County. This is the largest concentration of Thai people in The US. Included in the people that my wife and I socialized with in LA were 8 Thais. Some only socialized with other Thais to the exclusion of Farangs. (Those Thais tolerated me likely for my wife.) They had little English skills and knew little about their new home even after years of living in the US. I suppose there are many like these folks in the US. However, what was so remarkable to me that of these 8 people I met 7 of them were involved in illegal or corrupt activities.
Thais A and B are here illegally and have expired visas. They entered the US on educational visas and simply just didn't return. Not unusual for my country, but A and B had immigration closing in. Even though the days were numbered for these Thais they apparently had no concern. Rather than seek a solution (there are some) they just quietly tried to stay out of the box that was closing around them.
Thai C and D entered the US on a K-1 (fiancée) visa. This visa allows an American citizen to bring a foreign bride, or groom, to the US for the purpose of marriage. This is a long and fairly expensive process that allows for a progression to permanent residence status. This is widely known as a “Green Card” and once issued provides nearly the same status as an American citizen. Thais C and D got a foolish American to fake a marriage to them and become a paid sponsor so they could immigrate to the US. I say foolish because if caught immigration will simply send the Thai packing but the American is looking at a 5-year prison sentence. No one could pay me enough to do this.
Thai E is a real piece of work. A permanent resident in the US for many years she had a “practice” that would facilitate these “sponsors” and bring Thais to my country. She knew the laws and the process well enough to plot her way though the complex rules. She owned several successful, very profitable businesses and would boast that welfare was paying the entire cost of her pregnancy through delivery. I think it is fair to say that many in the US understand that our welfare systems can be exploited. However, most would never think of doing so simply because it is dishonest.
Thai F owns a vocational school that is authorized by the state to issue diplomas that will satisfy the requirements for a specialized state license. For Thais that pay school tuition and pay extra (in cash of course) they will provide a fake transcript that includes the proper course work and time frame. Additionally, they do have a real school that offers real training, but why bother?
Thai G was abandoned by her fake spouse before she got her 10 year “Green Card”. Hence, her conditional status expired. She would be much less likely to be deported due to US immigration law and does have some very good options available to her without a husband. So what does she do? Absolutely nothing! She should be motivated as she wants to travel to Thailand but there is no way she will get back in the US with an expired conditional “Green Card”.
Thai H is a lovely, kind, lady. She came to the US on a real K1 visa, married, and lives with her husband. I do not doubt for a second that they are a real couple. Ironically, they are having some problems with immigration. You figure? However, I think they will work them out. I wish them only the best.
The K1 cheats really piss me off! I brought my wife here on a K1 visa. We went the hard yards with all the expense, complexities and time. She wanted to work and send money to Thailand. I am not allowed to send my money to her family for her. You figure? Maybe Stickman can explain this to me? <Sorry, clueless on that one – Stick> It has to be money she earned herself. Anyway she went to English school and waited for months until the work permits were here. It was hard for her but, I insisted that everything we do is 100% legal. The fake K1's make it more difficult for honest people like us and Thai H and husband. Immigration knows the fakes are there but not necessarily who. The advantage to us in doing everything properly is my wife has every right to be in the US. She never, ever, has to worry about immigration.
Los Angeles and its state, California, have more problems and issues than any other location in the US. It has been this way for some time, and is the sort of thing that breeds corruption. Assuming that were true then corruption should be represented in the Farang population as well. Make sense? Among our Farang friends in LA numbering 10 or so there wasn't a hint of anything amiss. Perhaps there was something I missed but, the way they conducted themselves and moreover the values I know they carry makes it very unlikely. In my 62 years I have come upon corruption of sorts from time to time. This is the first time I have seen it so compressed and in your face. Of the Thais, 7 of 8, or 87% had corruption issues. We all know that 100 baht will “handle” a speeding ticket in Thailand. The corruption soars up from there to some high levels. I suggest that corruption is so much a part of Thailand these LA Thais simply looked to the US for what could be exploited and took advantage of the opportunity. Only 7 Thais of 100,000 maybe 999,993 are honest corruption free residents. My guess is I have it right at about 87% but who really knows?
I am currently in New Zealand and of the Thais here, it seems many are in similar situations with massive visa overstays of 10+ years mentioned! I received an email from a mate in England recently and he told me of similar stories in his town, just outside of London. He said that in the old days when he still had Thai fever, he would gravitate to any Thais me met in his own country, saying hello and introducing himself. Once he became aware of what many were up to, he now avoids them ALL! Is there something of a scofflawish attitude in the Thai psyche or is it perhaps something else?