“Asylum fraud in Chinatown: An Industry of Lies”

by Walter Olson on February 24, 2014

“All you would be asked is the same few rubbish questions,” said the lawyer. “Just make it up.” However, the 2010 conversation was being secretly recorded by the feds as part of an investigation that “has led to the prosecution of at least 30 people” including lawyers, paralegals and others employed by ten law firms, as well as a church employee “accused of coaching asylum applicants in basic tenets of Christianity to prop up their claims of religious persecution.” [Kirk Semple, Joseph Goldstein and Jeffrey E. Singer, New York Times] Earlier on asylum law here, here, here, etc..

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1 John Rohan 02.24.14 at 3:31 pm

The asylum process is so abused that it is nice to see someone cracking down on it.

2 Anonymous Attorney 02.24.14 at 4:03 pm

Meanwhile, the very real case of the Romeikes — German Christians who sought asylum to homeschool their children against the threat of jail in Germany — must be litigated to the Supreme Court.

3 mjs 02.24.14 at 4:15 pm

Isn’t it time America stopped allowing itself to become the refugee camp to the world? When half the world qualifies and little specific documentation or verification is supplied, Asylum, like much of our immigration policy, needs to be rethought.

4 Walter Olson 02.24.14 at 4:16 pm

Very real, perhaps, but not necessarily very meritorious as a match for the legal prerequisites for asylum, as has been discussed in this space. Not every bad or coercive law generates an asylum right, especially if the German family has an undoubted legal right to avoid the bad law’s force by moving to another EU member country rather than to the United States.

5 Jazzizhep 02.25.14 at 3:46 am

Mr. Olson,
Certainly not every person who is being persecuted for religious beliefs deserves asylum, but is the possibility of immigrating to a state other than the U.S. a consideration? Does the U.S. deny asylum while acknowledging persecution stating the aggrieved party should instead go somewhere else?

Also, as a condition of full EU membership, must all nations accept permanent resident status for citizens of other EU nations?

You appear to answer my questions in your post, but since I find your statements surprising, I would appreciate confirmation that I have correctly understood them. THX

6 Walter Olson 02.25.14 at 7:56 am

I’m no expert in asylum law, so I don’t know whether the power to avoid claimed persecution by using one’s established right to move from one EU country to another (or between states in a federal country like India or Nigeria) counts as a factor in our asylum calculations. Here is a source on the EU free right of movement. While I endorse the right to homeschooling, I side with Eugene Volokh and Ann Althouse in thinking it odd that a country’s failure to recognize that right would count as “persecution” without more, unless we are willing to embrace the view that huge numbers of other people in other countries have potentially valid claims to jump the ordinary immigration queue in favor of the special asylum/refugee ticket. Maybe there’s a good case for letting in this German family as part of a general liberalization of legal entry, but that’s a separate question from whether they’re entitled to use the otherwise narrow “persecution”/”asylum” door.

7 Jazzizhep 02.25.14 at 12:35 pm

Mr. Olson,

Thank you for your time and considered response. Your answer is part of the reason why I read Overlawyered, Volokh*, Popehat, Legal Insurrection, and it appears I should add Althouse to my feed.

I have heard of free movement within the EU, but never understood the term applied to permanent residence–now I know.

I believe now (after an initial gut reaction against anything ICE does under the current administration) that a compulsory secular education in a western democracy is an extremely low bar for religious persecution. I certainly don’t agree with Germany’s policy, but in a country where nationalism and xenophobia have run amok, I understand.

*Volokh completely opened my eyes regarding the need, in some areas at least, to consider foreign law in the formation and adjudication of U.S. law–not a 180° turn, but a 540° turn.

8 Vidyut 03.02.14 at 5:24 am

@Walter Olson

It may perhaps be irrelevant to the main story, but homeschoolers in Germany don’t necessarily have the right to move to another EU Member country. The recent case of the Wunderlich homeschooling family, where police invaded their homeschool with battering rams and took away their children. Not only were their children forcibly enrolled in school (which is normal for Germany) and returned only when they committed to sending them to school. The judgment acknowledges that the children are “academically proficient, well-adjusted socially and without educational deficiencies”, but proceeds to bar the family from leaving Germany when they wanted to migrate to France, where homeschooling is legal. Reason? “Concrete endangerment to children” it seems.

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