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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

When Clients Lie

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I once represented a Russian woman who paid a notario (or whatever
you call the Russian equivalent of a notario) $10,000.00 to concoct a
phony story about how the woman was a lesbian who faced persecution in
her home country. The application was denied, in part because the
notario failed to inform the asylum seeker about the contents of her
application, and the woman was referred to Immigration Court.

Admit your mistakes and you may get asylum... or even a seat in Congress.

By the time I got the case, the woman had married a United States
citizen (a man) and was facing deportation. We had to decide how best to
approach the case, given the client's previous lies. What we did is the
same approach I have used many times since, because it tends to work.
We admitted that she lied, explained how the lie happened (basically, a
naive young woman following the advice of a high-paid crook), accepted
responsibility for what she did wrong, and apologized.

In the end, the client received her green card based on the marriage.
My favorite part of the case was when I informed the Immigration Judge
that I would have an expert at trial to testify concerning country
conditions in Russia: The husband was African American, and if his wife
was deported, he planned to follow her to Russia, where he would likely
face problems with skinheads and other racists. The Judge, who was also
black, told me, "I don't need an expert to tell me that there is racism
in Russia." We skipped the expert and won the case.

This basic formula-admit the lie, take responsibility, and
apologize-is one that has worked for my clients on numerous occasions.

Just last month, for example, we completed the case of an asylee who
had been convicted of stealing money from his employer. The crime was an
aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act (because he
was sentenced to more than one year in prison). The refuge waiver,
under section 209(c) of the INA, is one of the rare waivers that allows
an aggravated felon to adjust status from asylum or refugee to lawful
permanent resident. It's not an easy waiver to get, and really isn't
that common (which-I hope-means that asylees rarely commit aggravated

In that case we used the same formula.* The client took
responsibility for his crime, apologized, and promised that he would not
engage in such behavior again. We also submitted evidence of
rehabilitation. The waiver was granted, the client was released from
detention (after a good eight months in jail), and he received his green

This same strategy can be used for clients who lied to obtain a visa
or who entered the country illegally. The fact finders want to hear that
the alien accepts responsibility for what she did. And in asylum cases,
there really is little to gain from covering up such lies, as people
who falsely obtain a visa (or enter the U.S. illegally) in order to
escape persecution are not ineligible for asylum.

The point of all this is not that the client can say the magic words
and win permission to remain in the United States. Rather, the alien who
accepts responsibility for what he did (and tries to turn his life
around) is much more likely to receive relief than the alien who tries
to cover it up or blame someone else.

Originally posted on the Asylumist:

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Updated 07-16-2013 at 01:19 PM by JDzubow

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