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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

Immigration Reform and Asylum Fraud

Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.
As lawmakers consider changes to the asylum system, one area of concern is asylum fraud.


If it takes one to know one, Congress should be great at eliminating fraud.



The Senate Bill, in its current form,
would eliminate the one-year asylum filing deadline. This deadline was
created in an effort to stop asylum fraud. In reality (and as I discuss here),
the one-year deadline does little to stop fraud, but often harms
legitimate refugees. What, then, could the Senate do to help reduce
asylum fraud? Below are a few suggestions:


  • Investigate and Prosecute Attorneys and Notarios Suspected of Facilitating Fraud
    - Based on my experience and my conversations with Asylum Officers and
    DHS attorneys, I believe that a small number of attorneys and notaries
    are responsible for a large percentage of fraud. Asylum Officers, DHS
    Attorneys, and Immigration Judges will often harbor suspicions about
    which attorneys and notaries are producing fraudulent asylum cases. The
    Government could (1) create a national database of suspected fraudsters;
    (2) question the clients of suspected fraudsters closely, in order to
    determine what role the attorney or notario played in preparing the
    case. Such information could be entered into the database to help build a
    case against the suspect; (3) if there is sufficient evidence against a
    particular fraudster, the person could be investigated; (4) attorneys
    and notarios should be prosecuted for fraud, and--where prosecution is
    not possible--a bar complaint should be filed against suspected
    attorneys; and (5) where possible, notarios should be prosecuted for
    practicing law without a license.



  • Create a Mandatory Immigration Bar - The Executive Office for Immigration Review ("EOIR") is in the process of creating an electronic registry
    for attorneys who practice before the Immigration Courts. This registry
    could be expanded into a mandatory immigration bar. Immigration Judges
    and Asylum Officers who suspect an attorney's involvement in fraud could
    submit a complaint to the bar for investigation. Also, aliens who have
    been victimized by an attorney could make a complaint to the bar
    association.*



  • Create a Mandatory Notario Registry
    - The asylum form, Form I-589, requires that the applicant give the
    name and contact information for whoever helped the applicant prepare
    the form. The I-589 form could request additional information about the
    preparer: (1) whether she charges a fee; (2) what her relationship is to
    the applicant (hired professional, friend, family member); (3) whether
    she is an attorney; (4) if she is not an attorney, whether she has
    informed the applicant that she is not an attorney; and (5) a copy of
    her photo ID. DOJ and DHS could require all hired preparers to register,
    and could track the cases they submit in a notario data base. Notarios
    who engage in bad behavior could then be punished and/or prevented from
    providing services to asylum applicants.


It seems to me that the above
approaches would do more to reduce fraud than the one-year asylum filing
deadline. In my experience, the deadline does nothing to stop
fraudulent cases.* Instead, it tends to block legitimate asylum seekers
who are ignorant of the law, or who don't file because they hope the
situation back home will improve. Other people miss the deadline because
they have been traumatized in their country and they do not want to
re-live their difficult experiences by having to prepare an asylum
case.* One group that has been particularly hard hit by the one-year
deadline is LGBT asylum seekers. Often, such people are not "out" when
they come to the United States, and they need time before they are able
to discuss their sexual orientation publicly. Another group
disproportionately affected by the deadline is women, who often fail to
file due to shame or lack of knowledge about the asylum system.

Requiring notarios and attorneys to
register, and keeping track of them, is more work than simply imposing
an arbitrary deadline, but it would have the virtue of actually doing
something to solve the problem.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.

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Updated 07-16-2013 at 01:18 PM by JDzubow

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