Sun, Feb 04, 2007 - Page 1 News List

US immigration holding fugitive Wang

DECISION An immigration hearing within the next seven days will decide whether Wang You-theng will be allowed to stay in the US or be repatriated, US officials said

By Charles Snyder, Max Hirsch and Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTERS IN WASHINGTON AND TAIPEI

Fugitive Rebar Group chairman Wang You-theng (王又曾) is in the custody of US immigration officials after trying to enter the country without a valid visa, and is expected to face an immigration judge next week in his bid to be admitted to the US in what could be a prolonged legal procedure, US officials said yesterday.

Wang was taken into custody by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency upon his arrival at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday on a flight from Singapore, where he had flown on Wednesday in the hope of eluding US legal action and taking refuge, at least temporarily, in Myanmar.

Singaporean authorities, at the request of Taiwan, refused to let him enter the country when he arrived and sent him back to Los Angeles on a flight later in the day.

A hearing before an immigration judge will be scheduled for next week, US officials said.

US law requires that he make an initial appearance before a judge within seven days of his detention. Taiwanese officials will also take part in the hearing.

The Taiwan representative office in Los Angeles will hire lawyers to present the nation's arguments for Wang to be deported to Taipei to face charges relating to the embezzlement of millions of Taiwan dollars from Rebar's bank accounts before the group was forced into bankruptcy proceedings, said David Lee (李大維), Taiwan's de facto ambassador in Washington.

Lee made no further comment on the case.

The immigration court appearance will be the first stage in what US immigration officials termed "removal proceedings," or deportation hearings.

However, if the US deported him, he would not necessarily be ordered to return to Taiwan. That decision would be up to the judge to make, US officials say.

"Typically, aliens are repatriated to their native country, but there are cases where they would also be repatriated to a third country," said Virginia Kice, a spokesperson for ICE, an agency of the Homeland Security Administration, in Los Angeles.

"This individual is in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Los Angeles. We have placed him in immigration removal proceedings. He is charged with being an arriving alien without a valid visa. He will be scheduled for a hearing before an immigration judge and it will be up to the judge to decide whether he can be legally admitted to the United States," Kice told the Taipei Times.

Wang had been issued a B1 visa when he first left Taiwan earlier this month, which was valid until July. However, Taiwan subsequently revoked the Republic of China passport that he is believed to have used to enter the US on Jan. 13.

While it had been believed that his visa would still be valid, Kice's statement is the first to disclose that his visa had been cancelled.

Wang's wife Wang Chin She-ying (王金世英) was allowed to pass through Customs on Friday and exit the airport because she is a US citizen and holds a valid US passport.

While Kice could not shed light on Wang Chin's situation, she noted that immigration authorities normally do not take action against legally returning Americans.

"Anyone coming in from a foreign country is subject to inspection when they arrive," she said.

"If a determination is made by officers in the US Customs and Border Protection agency who inspect those arriving travelers, and they determine that the person does not have a valid visa for admission, then the procedure is for US Customs and Border Protection to contact ICE, and we will maintain custody of the individual, pending their return, or pending an immigration hearing," she said.

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