The Justice Department’s failure to take action and review the cases of more than 3,700 aliens granted asylum despite likely fraud in their claims is “simply outrageous,” says House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).
“What message is being sent to those aliens who already have an incentive to lie to obtain an immigration benefit and now are emboldened even more by DOJ’s apparent acquiescence to this type of egregious criminal conduct?” Goodlatte wrote in a stinging letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch last week.
At issue is the Justice Department’s recent admission that its Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has taken no action to review the cases of 3,709 aliens granted asylum who were found to have have links to attorneys and document preparers convicted in a multi-agency criminal investigation into asylum fraud claims in New York City.
According to the House Judiciary Committee, Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik said that as of December 3, 2015, EOIR “has not conducted additional, independent actions” into the 3,709 cases and reopened none of them.
In his letter, Goodlatte chastised Lynch for failing to stay on top of asylum fraud and called on the department to reopen those outstanding cases.
“As the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, you, above all others, should be the most vigilant protector of the rights of those who suffer most from asylum fraud — the bona fide asylum seekers, whose claims are stymied by a bureaucratic process that seemingly rewards wrongdoers and cheaters,” he wrote.
As the Virginia lawmaker noted, asylum fraud not only rewards wrongdoers with the ability to remain and work in the U.S., access to welfare benefits and lawful permanent residency after a year, but it can have ongoing rippling effects for years to come.
“Thereafter, they are eligible to become U.S. citizens through naturalization,” Goodlatte explained. “Once they attain U.S. citizenship, they are eligible to file petitions to obtain immigration benefits for their family members. Thus, tens of thousands of aliens could potentially derive their status and U.S. citizenship through this pervasive fraud.”
Goodlatte called on Lynch to ensure that the cases are reopened promptly and take action to revoke asylum in cases where fraud can be established.
“As your appointees, immigration judges act as your delegates in cases that come before them,” he wrote. “Thus, you have the authority – and duty – to instruct them to reopen and review these cases to determine if the grants of asylum were the result of fraud.”