Well, well, what do you know the New York Times published a feature story on asylum fraud yesterday (Hat tip: Judy)—never thought I would see the day! I’m guessing it would have been a glaring omission on the Times part in the wake of the fake allegations against DSK by an immigration fraudster, here.
The man caught on the wiretap urged his immigrant client to fabricate a tragic past if he wanted asylum in the United States. To say that he was a victim of political repression in Albania. Or police brutality. Or even a blood feud.
“Maybe you had to leave because someone threatened to kill you,” the man suggested. “Because of something that your father did to somebody else or something to do with the land. You understand? That can be a way to get asylum.”
Often enough, it is. A shadowy industry dedicated to asylum fraud thrives in New York, where many of the country’s asylum claims are filed. Immigrants peddle personal accounts ripped from international headlines, con artists prey on the newly arrived and nonlawyers offer misguided advice.
The revelation that the West African hotel housekeeper who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault apparently lied on her asylum application has focused new attention on the use of these schemes.
[Thousands are legitimate, thousands! The NYT reporter has to throw in that caveat when he has no clue—ed!]
Of course, thousands of those claims are legitimate. But each cataclysm provides convenient cover stories for immigrants desperate to settle here for other reasons, forcing authorities to make high-stakes decisions based on the “demeanor, candor or responsiveness” of the applicant. “When there’s a problem anywhere, a horrible slaughter in Somalia, wherever, the first couple of years of those cases are very real,” said Andrew Johnson, an immigration lawyer in Manhattan. “Then the next four or five years, they just mimic those stories.”
“Fraud in immigration asylum is a huge issue and a major problem,” said Denise N. Slavin, an immigration judge in Miami who is vice president of the National Association of Immigration Judges.
Amadou Diallo, the street vendor from Guinea who was shot 41 times by New York police officers in 1999, came from a well-off, stable family. But he told immigration authorities that he was from nearby Mauritania, and that his parents had been killed in that country’s conflict.
It was not true, but he was granted asylum. The scheme was revealed after his death.
Whether here legally or illegally, immigrants can apply for asylum within one year of arriving. To qualify, they must show a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group — which could cover gays or abused women.
Immigration courts across the country granted 51 percent of asylum claims last year, government statistics show.
Such courts in New York City, which heard more cases than in any other city, approved 76 percent, among the highest rate in the nation.
If immigration courts approve an average number of 51 percent of the cases and NYC approves 76 percent, what does that tell you about why so many asylum seekers head to New York!
Now go back the NYT and read the funny story at the end of the article about the latest fraud fad—-save me! I’m gay!