The Consortium

Rev. Moon & His 'Green Card'

By Robert Parry

Rev. Sun Myung Moon received his status as a U.S. "lawful permanent resident" nearly 25 years ago, during President Nixon's administration, according to a Justice Department document recently released under a Freedom of Information Act request.

In a letter dated April 7, 1975, James F. Greene, then deputy commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, listed the date when Moon obtained his "green card" as April 30, 1973. But it was unclear from the released document whether Moon received any preferential treatment from the Nixon administration.

By 1973, Moon already was a controversial figure. The South Korean theocrat was under public criticism for brainwashing impressionable young Americans who were recruited into Moon's Unification Church. Moon also was raising INS concerns by bringing hundreds of foreign followers to the United States on tourist visas and then assigning them to mobile fund-raising teams.

But Moon was making himself useful to the Nixon administration by organizing support for the Vietnam War and later for Nixon's defense against the Watergate scandal. Moon's pro-Nixon activities led to a face-to-face White House meeting between the South Korean and the besieged U.S. president on Feb. 1, 1974.

Though the Justice Department released no documents about how Moon gained his resident alien status, Nixon did have a history of assisting political patrons with immigration problems. According to Seymour Hersh's The Dark Side of Camelot, Nixon received a $100,000 bribe from Romanian industrialist Nicolae Malaxa, a Nazi collaborator who moved to the United States in 1946. Nixon battled to gain preferential treatment for Malaxa so he could stay in the United States, which Malaxa did until his death in 1972. Hersh reported that the Central Intelligence Agency had a copy of the $100,000 check made out to Nixon.

According to a 1978 congressional investigative report on the "Koreagate" influence-buying scandal, "Moon had laid the foundation for political work in this country prior to 1973 [though] his followers became more openly involved in political activities in that and subsequent years." The report added that Moon's organization used his followers' travels to smuggle large sums of money into the United States in apparent violation of federal currency laws.

That flow of money helped transform Moon into possibly the U.S. conservative movement's most important source of financial support. Since the early 1970s, Moon has poured billions of dollars into conservative causes, including an estimated $100 million a year to subsidize the daily Washington Times newspaper. Moon's organization also funnelled money to many conservative political figures, including Rev. Jerry Falwell and former President George Bush. [See The Consortium series last year.]

According to other Justice Department records released under FOIA requests, Moon's legal alien status has protected him and his movement from government investigations into their sources of money and other legal questions.

Though eligible for citizenship in 1978, Moon never became a U.S. citizen. Then, about two years ago, frustrated by the apparent decline in his church's membership, Moon began denouncing the United States as "Satanic" and reviling Americans as individualistic. In 1996, Moon moved his base of operation to Uruguay.

Nevertheless, Moon has not renounced his "green card," according to U.S. officials familiar with his case. ~

(c) Copyright 1998

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