By Henry Williams.
United States authorities have arrested 26 people, six of whom are lawyers, for aiding allegedly fraudulent Chinese asylum seekers. All face charges of conspiring to commit immigration fraud.
Inventing stories of forced abortion and political persecution, clients were tutored using Chinese soap operas to develop back stories in support of their claims, according to the New York Times.
Some paralegals were called “story writers” for their knack for inventing detailed tales of persecution.
The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York said the false claims drowned out legitimate cases:
“Asylum fraud imposes a tremendous burden on the system and it also makes it more difficult for those who are legitimately seeking refuge in this country.”
The indictments covered 10 different legal firms, from which 1,900 claims were submitted. It’s not clear how many of these officials believed were fraudulent. The Justice Department said that multiple, individual schemes were in play.
Chinese claimants form a large proportion of all asylum seekers in the US. In 2011, 8,600 Chinese asylum seekers were successful in claiming refuge, representing over a third of all successful cases.