Published by Chris Chmielenski
Immigration Attorney Julia Greenberg was convicted of defrauding the asylum system late last year and is approaching her sentencing date soon. Along with an organization called “Russian America,” Greenberg coached clients to lie under oath and fabricated false stories for their asylum applications. This even included having an applicant pretend he was homosexual to boost his asylum approval chances and having a ghostwriter produce fake blogs for another applicant so it would look like he or she was persecuted for political opinion. The asylum fraud is not just happening at the border, but it is going on nationwide.
Importantly, asylum fraud is not a victimless crime. Asylum exists for people in legitimate danger and in desperate need of refuge. To cut in front of those people is to effectively deny their asylum for one’s own fraudulent benefit. Currently the asylum backlog in the United States sits around 1.6 million cases. That number is only growing over time, and bona fide asylum applicants are forced to wait years for adjudication because of the rampant asylum fraud.
If you wonder how we know there is rampant asylum fraud, the government is clear on the issue. In a sentencing memorandum in Greenberg’s case, the government stated:
“USCIS reports that immigration fraud, including asylum fraud, is endemic. The overwhelming load of fraudulent applications creates a backlog and delays for those vulnerable applicants who truly deserve the relief asylum provides, and unfortunately causes USCIS to view each asylum application—including for those who legitimately deserve such relief—with a more skeptical eye.”
“One of the most troubling aspects of the crime is that this sort of fraud is one of the reasons our immigration system is sometimes viewed as broken, and is in many ways broken. There are so many fake asylum claims clogging the system, that there are years-long backlogs, preventing legitimate asylum applicants from gaining protection in this country. That includes people who are persecuted for their political beliefs or for their membership in vulnerable and marginalized groups. . . .”
A married attorney couple were also recently convicted of asylum fraud in similar circumstances to Greenberg, including falsifying applications and coaching clients to lie, along with fabricating LGBTQ identities. A Mercer County couple was just indicted at the end of August 2023 for asylum fraud that allegedly had been going on since 2007. Elvis Harold Reyes was
in prison for filing over 225 false asylum claims with the same fact pattern of fabricating stories.
It is worth noting that many of the indicted and convicted asylum fraudsters were operating for years before being caught. The open and obvious nature of their actions indicate very little fear of being caught, which makes sense if you are operating within a system where fraud is rampant and the enforcement officials are overwhelmed and unable to detect fraud.
At the border, the billion dollar human trafficking industry run by violent drug cartels is also coaching and encouraging asylum fraud. The government has stated:
“A full 83 percent of the people who were subject to ER and claimed fear from 2014 to 2019 were referred to an IJ for section 240 proceedings, but only 15 percent of those cases that were completed were granted asylum or some other form of protection.
Similarly, among cases referred and completed since 2013, significantly fewer than 20 percent of people found to have a credible fear were ultimately granted asylum from EOIR .
Ultimately, the number of individuals who are referred to an IJ at the beginning of the ER process greatly exceeds the number who are actually granted asylum or some other form of relief or protection.”
Also from the government:
As a result, a large number of cases linger in a variety of incompletely resolved statuses for extended periods. For all SWB encounters from FY 2014 to FY 2019 that claimed fear and were referred to EOIR, only 9 percent had been granted relief by the end of FY 2022, and only 11 percent had an executed removal order—leaving 80 percent in some degree of limbo.
“As a result, those who have a valid claim to asylum in the United States often have to wait years for a final protection decision. Conversely, noncitizens ultimately found ineligible for asylum or another form of protection are likely to spend many years in the United States prior to being ordered removed.”
The asylum fraud that is endemic in the system, both at the border and nationwide, is harming bona fide asylum seekers and providing a pathway to remain in the United States (and work) for fraudulent claimants. It helps the fraudsters and hurts the vulnerable. Because of the policies of our government, those who merely claim asylum are granted parole and employment authorization for years while they await adjudication of their fake claims. This, in turn, provides incentives for more fraudulent asylum claims that do more harm to the vulnerable and add further resource strains to the Federal government and local communities.
Unless and until the incentives for asylum fraud are removed from the equation, the border crisis will never end. People respond to incentives. The cartels at the border have about a billion reasons to encourage asylum fraud. Those seeking to live and work in the United States will keep coming and fraudulently claiming asylum so long as they get residence and employment authorization for doing so. Anyone claiming they care about actual vulnerable people who need asylum must oppose the endemic fraud that is blocking their path. And those who really care will oppose parole and employment authorization policies that provide benefits to the fraud that is hurting the weak.
JARED CULVER is a Legal Analyst for NumbersUSA
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