I told you about a recent case in Maryland where immigration lawyer, Patrick Tzeuton from Cameroon, was convicted of immigration fraud when he fabricated documents for clients seeking asylum in the US.
Thanks to a reader here is another case, from Seattle, with a different twist. This asylum attorney (I am assuming he is/was an attorney although the article does not say) was advising clients to pretend they were gay and of course persecuted to receive approval for asylum.
SEATTLE – A man accused of advising straight immigrants to claim homosexuality – and potential persecution in their home countries – when they applied for asylum has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit immigration fraud.
Steven Mahoney entered his plea Tuesday in federal court in Seattle.
The U.S. attorney’s office says the 41-year-old Mahoney ran Mahoney and Associates in Kent, and held himself out as an expert in immigration affairs. They say he made money by advising immigrants on how to stay in the U.S. Between late 1998 and mid 2007, Mahoney admits he filed as many as 99 false immigration documents and was paid between $1,000 and $4,000 for each.
Asylees are people who have gotten into the US and claim they were in some way persecuted and would be in danger if they returned to their home country—you know, like Obama’s Aunt Zeituni. However, once granted asylum they are treated just like refugees and receive the same benefits that refugees receive.
Last summer I told you about how it was harder to use the gay/lesbian persecution angle to legally stay in the US if you were Mexican here. The reason is that being gay is becoming acceptable in Mexico and other countries south of the border. But, here is what I wondered at the time:
I’m wondering how the government and these asylum lawyers know if the immigrant claiming asylum is telling the truth. Couldn’t an illegal immigrant coming across the border just say he is gay? Surely no one checks behind closed doors.
I guess this Seattle story confirms that is exactly what they are doing, and I doubt this is an isolated case.
By the way, one commenter to the story asked if all the clients will now be deported for lying. Guesses?