A lawyer and immigration activist was hailed as a hero for saving Christians in Iraq from persecution. But now he is the one facing jail after being convicted of helping clients falsify asylum claims.
Robert DeKalaita helped save thousands of Iraqi-American Christians from terrible fates at the hands of ISIS, reported Fox News.
While the lawyer is a popular figure In the Iraqi-American Christian community because he helped keep hundreds of Christians out of the hands of Muslim extremists, federal authorities accused him of getting his clients to lie to obtain asylum.
In May, a federal jury convicted him of falsifying paperwork to help his clients secure asylum in the United States by making bogus claims of persecution and torture.
As we explain here in our blog, you must have been treated in certain detrimental ways in your home nation to be eligible for asylum. Refugees and asylum seekers need to show persecution in areas such as race, religion or nationality.
DeKelaita a 53-year-old attorney who was born in Iraq faces up to 35 years in prison after his conviction for helping clients falsify asylum applications. His backers said he had highlighted the federal government’s failure to address the issue of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
Federal Law Has Harsh Penalties for Fraudulent Asylum Claims
The laws on asylum were changed in 1996 when Congress imposed a new penalty for all asylum applicants who filed applications. Asylum seekers who filed frivolous applications were prevented from receiving benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This is obviously a serious measure because it means an immigration judge can bar an asylum seeker from receiving benefits such as asylum and temporary protected status. However, a frivolous funding does not prevent you receiving withholding of removal under INA § 241 or protection under the auspices of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT).
If you lie on an asylum claim, you can face dire consequences years later if your lie catches up with you. If your application is approved and you gain asylum and later successfully obtain a green card, you could still lose it and be removed at a later date if an untruth is discovered. There have even been rare cases of former asylum seekers losing citizenship.
The extent of asylum fraud remains a matter of conjecture but there have been some cases of large scale operations. In 2014, a massive prosecution was held involving claims of mass asylum fraud among the Chinese population of New York City, reported the New York Times.
If you are accused of making a fraudulent asylum claim it’s important to hire an experienced criminal and immigration attorney as soon as possible to fight the potentially dire consequences. Call Peek & Toland at (512) 399-2311 or see our FAQs on immigration.