Asylum Clients of Lying Law Firms Encounter Deportation Threat

A crackdown by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on thousands of potentially fraudulent asylum grants is rumbling throughout US immigrant communities, causing anxiety and confusion as people rush to find strategies or help to stave off deportation. This anxiety illustrates the point that even long-time permanent residents and naturalized citizens should not feel secure with their immigration status if they procured it through fraud or if it appears they may have—or if it appears they are a beneficiary of another’s fraud.

According to a report last week by National Public Radio, DHS is reviewing over 13,000 cases handled by immigration lawyers, agents and others convicted after the 2012 Operation Fiction Writer investigation.

During that 2012 fraud investigation, DHS officials determined that thousands of asylum applications contained fictitious details of persecution and had been prepared by a small number of law firms caught up in the sweep.

Those convicted in Operation Fiction Writer helped over 3,500 immigrants win asylum status. However, it is important to note that the number of derivative applications submitted by family members of those granted asylum now exceeds 10,000. So, we’re talking about 13,500 immigrants granted asylum who could lose their immigration status and face deportation.

Many of those that now face the prospect of losing their immigration status and facing deportation were simply convinced by their countrymen that asylum was an affordable and quick way to a better life in the US, so they went ahead with the fabricated cases without considering the severely negative consequences. Now, some individuals and families who have lived in the US a long time now feel for the first time the fretfulness that comes with prospective deportation.

While it is unclear how many cases filed by rebuked law firms were fraudulent, the investigation could also upend the lives of innocent individuals and families who obtained asylum without fraud.