Asylum Claims Rife with Fraud

Published on June 25th, 2015

Summer has officially begun, and with it the surge of Central Americans into the Southwest United States. In its June 16 op-ed, The New York Times urged the federal government to identify and correct the root causes of migration from Central America. The Times listed poverty, gang violence and corrupt leadership as the major reasons people flee.

Migrants apprehended by USCIS
Migrants from Honduras stopped by Border Patrol in Texas last summer.
Photo: David Wallace/The Republic

The Times also bemoaned Mexico’s surprising but welcome increase in intercepting Central Americans on their way to the U.S. Between October 2014 and April 2015, Mexico returned 93,000 Central Americans versus 49,800 during the same period last year. Since Mexico is preventing so many Central Americans from successfully completely their journey to the U.S., fewer, The Times frets, will ultimately have a chance to apply for asylum, an injustice in its eyes.

But here are a few things about asylum that The Times and other mainstream media outlets omit. Many asylum claims are based on hearsay. The U.S. doesn’t have eyewitnesses to confirm that an allegedly aggrieved party has been or will be a gang violence victim.

Tangible evidence is often scant in asylum petitions, and immigration officials have concluded that fraud is the common denominator in most applications. At a 2014 House Judiciary Committee hearing, Jan Ting, University of Pennsylvania law professor and former Immigration and Naturalization Service Assistant Director for Refugees, Asylum and Parole, testified that immigration lawyers and other advocates frequently coach applicants on what key phrases to use. Ting also said that the “credible fear” concept, the most frequently referred to phrase, should be reevaluated.

USCIS Agents outside a business in New York
Raided by the FBI: a New York City storefront in Chinatown charged with immigration fraud.

Asylees, their spouses and children can qualify for green cards within a year, and once they’re approved, they will receive employment authorization documents. Eventually, they can become citizens, and get benefits.

In short, since the fiscal and population stakes are high – more people adding to U.S. entitlement obligations – The Times should promote eliminating, or at least reducing, fraud before calling for an easier path to asylum!

Oddly, The Times knows that the asylum process thrives on deceit. Last year, it published a story that exposed Chinatown’s immigration lawyers as knee-deep in “an industry of lies.”

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