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A Local Story with National Implications | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

A Local Story with National Implications

It started as a local story concerning the arrest of a student who lied about his age to attend an area high school and soon morphed into an example of all which is wrong with our immigration system. Now critics are asking “How could this happen?” and more importantly “Why did he do it?”

On Feb. 25th, police in Harrisburg, PA announced the arrest of a city high school student who they claim was actually a Ukrainian national who used false identification to gain admittance to the local high school. Before long, defenders were flooding social media claiming, as one commenter put it, “(he) chose to take a risk to better his life, and live the American dream and become a productive, Patriotic American.” But the real story is far more than a rags to riches story of an immigrant who fled poverty and famine only to find his way to the top in America. It is a story of deceit, fraud and a broken immigration system. It is also a warning of what could have been far worse.

Artur Samarin, now 23, was a Ukrainian college student when he first arrived in the United States on a valid tourist visa in 2012. When his visa expired, Artur did what many other visiting foreigners do – he simply stayed. While this is alarming to many, it has become so commonplace it hardly raised an eyebrow never mind any red flags. But Artur did not simply hide in the shadows, working menial off-the-book jobs; he enrolled in the local high school as 15 year old Asher Potts.  He continued to live as Asher Potts until his recent arrest and did everything but remain in the shadows.

Asher PottsAs 15 year old Asher Potts, Artur thrived in the Harrisburg High School system, achieving a 4.0 GPA, serving as a youth panelist on a town hall forum discussing violence, volunteering with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and as a member of both the Jr. ROTC and Naval Sea Cadets. Potts was such an accomplished student that former Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson proclaimed “Asher Potts Day” and State Representative Patty Kim posed for photographs with him when he was admitted to the National Honor Society. Of course, this lengthy list of achievements lose their luster when you remember this “High School Senior” had already graduated high school once before and attended two years of college. He lied about his true identity and used a fraudulent birth certificate, Social Security Card and driver’s license to achieve his fraud.

So, why is this of national interest? First, it is reminiscent of simple yet illegal activities committed by the 9/11 bombers prior to their heinous acts – staying on expired documents, attending school under false names and not really worrying about discovery much less deportation. Oddly enough, Artur was also interested in studying aeronautics and possibly seeking employment with NASA. Second is the apparent ease at which all of this was accomplished. Enrolling in high school is no longer as simple as it once was; you cannot merely show up on the first day of school, say “Here’s my kid” and choose a desk. Obtaining a fraudulent birth certificate which is then used to procure both a Social Security Card and driver’s license is supposed to be difficult, if not impossible, but that did not appear to even slow a 23 year old down.

Although this may appear to be the story of one, lone 23 year old who worked the system for his own personal gain, it makes one wonder how many more “Asher Potts” are out there. How many are attending schools, colleges or universities nationwide? Even more important is what their real reasons for doing so are?

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

1 thought on “A Local Story with National Implications

  1. Let’s face it Tom, saying he lied about his age is a an understatement. He engaged in identity fraud and forgery and deserves to feel the full weight of the law. That said, there are probably thousands or people out there right now who are getting away for a similar but more subtle form of fraud after having falsified information on job applications. This isn’t just about immigration. It is about people taking information at face value without checking in an era when data theft and falsification has become common and checking is much easier.

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