Immigration lawyer frauds are likely to become the next target in a crackdown that could involve both the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. During a Congressional hearing, Andrew R. Arthur, a former immigration official who served eight years as an immigration judge, told that 58% of sample immigration cases examined indicate possible fraud.
Such a fraud is committed by immigration lawyers who lie and coach their clients to lie in order to avoid deportation.
One of the most serious areas of abuse is related to refugees. Several practitioners have been charged in high-profile cases related to fraudulent asylum applications. Immigrants are instructed to tell false stories of beating or rapes they endured in their homeland. Immigration judges are too few to be able to check on every situation.
What Was Discussed in the Congressional Hearing
The statements just given by Andrew R. Arthur are quite extensive and cover 17 pages of testimony. Several examples of fraud stand out in his recounting.
In May 2016, an immigration lawyer in suburban Chicago was convicted by a federal jury of falsifying paperwork in a bid to help clients win asylum in the United States on bogus claims of torture and religious persecution.
In April 2014, two lawyers and an office worker in New York were found guilty of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud.
The three were arrested in a December 2012 FBI sweep that targeted lawyers and staffers suspected of coaching Chinese immigrants on how to lie to be eligible for asylum.
As of March 2014, a joint fraud investigation, known as Operation Fiction Writer, resulted in charges against 30 defendants, including 8 attorneys, for their alleged participation in immigration fraud schemes in New York City.
They had filed 5,773 affirmative asylum applications with USCIS, and USCIS granted asylum to 829 of those affirmative asylum applicants. 3,709 individuals who were connected to attorneys and preparers convicted in Operation Fiction Writer were granted asylum in immigration court.”
In June 2010, three California lawyers and two office workers were convicted of charges related to a scheme that consisted in filing hundreds of false asylum claims between 2000 and 2004.”
Most significantly, in April 2005, the leader of a Fairfax-based immigration fraud ring . . . pleaded guilty to falsifying documents for more than 1,900 Indonesians who are in the United States illegally.
All of these cases are years old, but they are resurfacing now in an effort to tighten law enforcement in the are of immigration. More judges, better investigative tools, and tighter screening are suggested as possible remedies.
The Hunt for Frauds Widens
H-1B is also considered a hotbed for abuses and the administration has already launched a campaign to disclose and prosecute them.
DHS has created an email address where anyone can denounce a potential fraud in hiring foreign labor. All communications received through such an address will probably lead to on-site inspections by USCIS officials.
“Targeted site visits will allow USCIS to focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur, and determine whether H-1B dependent employers are evading their obligation to make a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers.”
ICE has also declared it is placing a high priority in investigating document and benefits fraud. On the other hand, USCIS itself is at the center of controversy regarding abuses by contractors.
Immigration is becoming a hot area of political and legal confrontation. Congress is now investigating the immigration system looking for abuses. Everyone is looking for a target to blame, and immigration lawyers could be an easy one to pick.