Can you believe that headline at the New York Times of all places! Earlier this morning, we reported on the Wall Street Journal story about questionable asylum-seekers (Syrians), and now this! Are we reaching a tipping point—when even the NEW YORK TIMES writes about asylum fraud? Hat tip: ‘pungentpeppers.’
Just make it up!
Emphasis below is mine:
A Chinese woman walked into a law office in New York’s Chinatown and asked to see her lawyer. She had applied for asylum, claiming that she had been forced to get an abortion in China to comply with the country’s family-planning laws, and she was anxious about her coming interview with immigration officials.
She had good reason to be worried: Her claim, invented by her lawyer’s associates, was false.
But the lawyer, John Wang, told her to relax. The process, he said, was straightforward, and as long as she memorized a few details, everything would be fine. “You are making yourself nervous,” he said in Mandarin. “All you would be asked is the same few rubbish questions.”
“Just make it up,” the lawyer added.
The conversation, in December 2010, was secretly recorded by federal officials conducting a wide investigation of immigration fraud in New York’s Chinese population. The inquiry has led to the prosecution of at least 30 people — lawyers (including Mr. Wang), paralegals, interpreters and even an employee of a church, who is on trial, accused of coaching asylum applicants in basic tenets of Christianity to prop up their claims of religious persecution. [Do-gooder-itis!—ed] All were charged with helping hundreds of Chinese immigrants apply for asylum using false tales of persecution.
The transcript of the conversation in Mr. Wang’s office, which was disclosed in a recent court filing, offered a rare look at the hidden side of the Chinese asylum industry in New York.
To asylum-seekers it’s not an issue of right or wrong:
Though the prevalence of fraud is unknown, federal officials appear to regard the applicant pool in New York with considerable suspicion. In fiscal year 2013, asylum officers around the country granted 40 percent of all Chinese asylum requests, according to government data. In New York City, asylum officers approved only 15 percent.
Peter Kwong, a professor at the City University of New York and an expert on the Chinese population in New York, said it was an open secret in the Chinese community that most asylum applications were at least partly false, from fabricated narratives of persecution to counterfeit supporting documents and invented witness testimony.
To asylum-seekers, he said, “it’s not an issue of right or wrong. It’s an issue about whether they can get it and their means to get it.”
In my post on Syrians coming across the Mexican border, I mentioned an AP story that blames the backlog of cases in the immigration courts on the government shutdown (blame the Republicans), but here the NYT report says that the sheer volume of fraudulent cases is to blame.
The volume of petitions has clogged the federal bureaucratic machinery, overwhelming asylum officers and judges. The deputy director of the New York asylum office blamed fraud, in part, for the deluge, and said she had tripled her team of asylum officers to dig out of a two-year backlog of cases.
The schemes “wreaked havoc on the asylum system as a whole,” the official, Ashley B. Caudill-Mirillo, wrote in a letter to a federal judge in November.
Asylum fraud cuts across all immigrant groups (I still can’t believe this is the NYT reporting this!).
False asylum petitions are among the most common forms of immigration fraud, in part because they are difficult to detect, experts said. Since many claims are based on events that took place amid armed conflict or political turmoil, the narratives and supporting documents can be hard for the American authorities to verify.
And while the Chinese asylum pool has drawn increasing scrutiny in recent years, asylum fraud cuts across all immigrant groups, officials say, cropping up among populations from societies in turmoil such as Guineans seeking refuge from political upheaval, Afghans fleeing war, Russians looking for sanctuary from homophobia and Mexicans running from drug violence.
There is much more, so much more that I didn’t know where to stop excerpting! Read it all.
From a post here at RRW last month:
Chinese make up the largest percentage of asylum seekers granted permission to stay in the US
Go to Table 6, page 6 of the Department of Homeland Securities 2012 Annual Flow Report. Here are the stats for Chinese given refugee status (after arriving in the US on their own either illegally or as visa overstays).
2010: 6,693 Chinese granted asylum (31% of the total)
2011: 8,585 (34%)
2012: 10,151 (34%)
Remember! Once granted asylum, the asylee is then able to access all of the welfare programs open to refugees who were brought in by the US State Department. Fact sheet here.