Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Bunch of lawyers arrested for immigration fraud
From NY Times:
They invented woeful tales of persecution for their Chinese clients. Prepped them on how to lie about having had a forced abortion. Even tutored them on religion.
In all, 26 people, including 6 lawyers, were charged Tuesday with helping Chinese immigrants submit false asylum claims in an effort to stay in the United States, law enforcement officials said.
The indictments describe elaborate schemes based in law offices in Manhattan’s Chinatown and in Flushing, Queens, which involved teams of paralegals and office managers, translators and a church official, who conspired to dupe immigration officials by inventing stories of political and religious persecution for their clients, officials said.
The indictments say female clients who sought asylum based on China’s one-child policy were encouraged to prepare for asylum interviews by watching Chinese soap operas so they could describe the experience of a forced abortion. Some paralegals were called “story writers” for their knack for inventing detailed tales of persecution. A church official in Flushing prepared clients for questions on religion by offering basic instruction in Christianity.
More than 20 defendants were arrested in raids in Manhattan’s Chinatown and in Flushing, capping a three-year investigation.
Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, accused the defendants of “weaving elaborate fictions” and making it “more difficult for those who are legitimately seeking refuge in this country.”
The indictments charged employees of at least 10 law firms, the authorities said. In the past few years, the firms filed more than 1,900 asylum applications, according to the indictments; officials did not say how many they believe were fraudulent.