Orange County’s Thomas Burton initially thought he’d found true love in China but quickly discovered he’d entangled himself in a nightmare with his bride, Juxia Qin.
Qin appeared loving until she landed a Los Angeles International Airport in Jan. 2012 with a conditional entry K-1 visa and after arrival “immediately . . . turned into a totally different person, wanted to control Burton’s income and assets and initiated endless and bitter arguments,” according to a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
How did DHS get ensnarled in a domestic dispute inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana?
Marital bliss completely evaporated after just 55 days, when Qin fled the Fountain Valley house, filed domestic violence charges and disappeared.
The criminal charges were eventually dismissed by the Orange County district attorney’s office but only after a humiliated Burton spent time in jail.
Believing he’d been duped into a shame marriage, Burton file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with DHS in hopes of discovering if Qin disingenuously used the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 to gain permanent U.S. citizenship by fabricating a tale about his conduct.
“I want all information that Qin documented about me,” his FOIA stated. “This request is regarding marriage fraud in order to gain a permanent American visa. I believe [she] has made false statements and accusations about me regarding the status of our relationship and marriage.”
But DHS officials told him they could only share the information if Qin signed a privacy waiver.
Unsatisfied, Burton took the matter to U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford’s courtroom, where his Irvine-based lawyer, Shun C. Chen, argued the agency made an erroneous determination because the goal of the FOIA request was to determine if DHS properly granted Qin permanent residency.
In late June, Guilford sided with federal officials.
“Allowing Burton to review his estranged wife’s immigration records in these circumstances doesn’t comport with FOIA, which serves public rather than private concerns,” the judge wrote.
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.