Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

by Jason Dzubow

When Clients Lie

I once represented a Russian woman who paid a notario (or whatever you call the Russian equivalent of a notario) $10,000.00 to concoct a phony story about how the woman was a lesbian who faced persecution in her home country. The application was denied, in part because the notario failed to inform the asylum seeker about the contents of her application, and the woman was referred to Immigration Court.

Admit your mistakes and you may get asylum... or even a seat in Congress.

Admit your mistakes and you may get asylum… or even a seat in Congress.

By the time I got the case, the woman had married a United States citizen (a man) and was facing deportation. We had to decide how best to approach the case, given the client’s previous lies. What we did is the same approach I have used many times since, because it tends to work. We admitted that she lied, explained how the lie happened (basically, a naive young woman following the advice of a high-paid crook), accepted responsibility for what she did wrong, and apologized.

In the end, the client received her green card based on the marriage. My favorite part of the case was when I informed the Immigration Judge that I would have an expert at trial to testify concerning country conditions in Russia: The husband was African American, and if his wife was deported, he planned to follow her to Russia, where he would likely face problems with skinheads and other racists. The Judge, who was also black, told me, “I don’t need an expert to tell me that there is racism in Russia.” We skipped the expert and won the case.

This basic formula–admit the lie, take responsibility, and apologize–is one that has worked for my clients on numerous occasions.

Just last month, for example, we completed the case of an asylee who had been convicted of stealing money from his employer. The crime was an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act (because he was sentenced to more than one year in prison). The refuge waiver, under section 209(c) of the INA, is one of the rare waivers that allows an aggravated felon to adjust status from asylum or refugee to lawful permanent resident. It’s not an easy waiver to get, and really isn’t that common (which–I hope–means that asylees rarely commit aggravated felonies).

In that case we used the same formula.  The client took responsibility for his crime, apologized, and promised that he would not engage in such behavior again. We also submitted evidence of rehabilitation. The waiver was granted, the client was released from detention (after a good eight months in jail), and he received his green card.

This same strategy can be used for clients who lied to obtain a visa or who entered the country illegally. The fact finders want to hear that the alien accepts responsibility for what she did. And in asylum cases, there really is little to gain from covering up such lies, as people who falsely obtain a visa (or enter the U.S. illegally) in order to escape persecution are not ineligible for asylum.

The point of all this is not that the client can say the magic words and win permission to remain in the United States. Rather, the alien who accepts responsibility for what he did (and tries to turn his life around) is much more likely to receive relief than the alien who tries to cover it up or blame someone else.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.

About The Author

Jason Dzubow's practice focuses on immigration law, asylum, and appellate litigation. Mr. Dzubow is admitted to practice law in the federal and state courts of Washington, DC and Maryland, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Eleventh, and DC Circuits, all Immigration Courts in the United States, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Capital Area Immigrant Rights (CAIR) Coalition. In June 2009, CAIR Coalition honored Mr. Dzubow for his Outstanding Commitment to Defending the Rights and Dignity of Detained Immigrants.In December 2011, Washingtonian magazine recognized Dr. Dzubow as one of the best immigration lawyers in the Washington, DC area; in March 2011, he was listed as one of the top 25 legal minds in the country in the area of immigration law. Mr. Dzubow is also an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University in Virginia.

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