A law firm had a 95 percent success rate in asylum claims, because they told their clients to lie. Now they've been convicted, but the worry seems to be that the liars may be deported. From the ABA Journal:
Posted Nov 16, 2009 12:10 PM CST
By Martha Neil
Sekhon & Sekhon claimed a 95 percent success rate concerning more than 1,000 immigrants that the law firm helped to win political asylum in the United States.
But now up to 700 could be deported because they lied to immigration judges and asylum officers after the law firm and interpreters urged them to do so, reports the Sacramento Bee.
Convicted in June of conspiracy to defraud the government, three lawyers, including the two brothers who founded the firm, and two interpreters are scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Sacramento next month. They could get as much as 10 years.
Asylum cases are notoriously difficult to prove, since supporting documentation is often minimal or nonexistent, and individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome can be terrible witnesses. In some cases, the defendants coached clients to lie even when they had, in fact, suffered treatment that would create a legitimate fear of persecution. Apparently, they expected the fictionalized version to be more persuasive to the immigration judge, according to the newspaper.
The Sacramento Bee story is Law firm's scam reopens hundreds of asylum cases, By Stephen Magagnini, November 16, 2009, which starts out, in true sensitive immigration story style,Â "For years, Sacramento's Sekhon & Sekhon law firm was renowned as a beacon of hope." and then gets to the part about the lying.
Of course, the liars may actually be persecuted back home, and there's an immigration judge who's worried about it:
"Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges and a veteran judge in San Francisco's immigration court, called the Sekhon case "the worst-case nightmare come true for people who are cynical about the asylum process to begin with."
"My colleagues have said it's very difficult to tell an asylum seeker with a good claim from a good liar," Marks said. "We're death penalty cases in traffic court settings. If somebody tells me he's going to be persecuted when he goes back home and I'm wrong, I'm sentencing him to death."
Yes, although we should always admit the possibility that someone who says he's persecuted is actually guilty of something. But there's a solution to that. Instead of deporting them to their home countries, deport them to some country that isn't persecuting them and has a shortage of immigrants. In 2001 I wrote an article titled Dear Mr. Fox: Please Find Attached our Poor/ Tired/ Dispossessed, Etc. suggesting this.