What happens if I lie on immigration forms?

I have already highlighted cases of DREAMers who lied under oath but were approved for DACA and others who were approved despite submitting fake documents to USCIS.  Nobody knows how this happened, but I am also aware of one DREAMer approved with more than three misdemeanors even though he was not eligible.  We all know that like any other bureaucracy, USCIS does not attract the best talent, employees are overworked and poorly paid, and there is a lot of pressure on them to approve applications fast.  That is how things fall through the crack and I am sure each one of you have stories of immigrants who should not have been able to ever legally enter the United States are actually now naturalized citizens and continuing their fraudulent ways in other areas.


Now if you are tempted to lie on your application to the USCIS in order to get approval or to hide a piece of information by providing even false evidence, you should think again.  While so many fraudsters get approved, it does not mean that they might never be caught.  Actually, even naturalized citizens can be stripped of their citizenship if they engaged in fraud during the immigration process.  Obviously, other visas and green cards can be nullified without any trouble for lying or fraud at any point.  Jail time and then deportation are standard in such cases.

In order to highlight how this works let us review the case of El Salvador national Inocente Orlando Montano who applied for temporary protection status (TPS), a program similar to DACA.  In order to be eligible for the program, he knowingly gave the wrong date of his entry into the United States.  He also lied about his military service.  Montano has been convicted of immigration fraud and perjury for lying under oath on his initial application and those for renewals.  He is now in prison and after doing his time he is headed to his native country.  If you deliberately choose to lie on an application or submit a document that you know is clearly fraudulent, be prepared for punishment along these lines.

Deferred Action for parents of DREAMers

With comprehensive immigration reform all but dead, President Barack Obama is starting to act on his own by providing immigration relief to undocumented aliens.  His highly successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program enabled about half-a-million young DREAMers a work permit, a valid SSN, and immunity from deportation.  It is expected that like the TPS program, this will be renewed indefinitely and even a Republican president may not have the guts to cancel.  The president is also encouraging undocumented aliens to cross the Mexican border and immediately seek asylum using the drug violence in Mexico and Central America as an excuse.  The Administration has also declared that those immigrants who are using fraudulent SSN or green cards will not be prosecuted for working illegally or for identity theft.  Now, in another excellent news for unauthorized immigrants if they have children of their own or if they take care of children of someone else (and these kids can also be in the USA illegally but definitely it is a plus if they are citizens) there will be no deportation and most likely no jail time.  Unless these folks are hardcore criminals they can use the excuse of taking care of kids to avoid going to jail or being deported.  For non-citizen children, it is understood that they are younger than 18 and the immigrants take care of them.  They need not be the so-called DREAMers, which does not have a legal definition and in different contexts can be more restrictive. 


Brandon Montgomery, a spokesperson for ICE, declared that "...ICE officers and agents may, on a case-by-case basis, utilize alternatives to detention for these individuals particularly when the detention of a non-criminal alien would result in a child being left without an appropriate parental caregiver.”  This simply means that if you are without a child, get one.  If you have kids back home, ask someone to put them on a plane to the US.  And President Obama is suggesting that if you plan to come to the US illegally, do not leave home without a child.

Such steps are prelude to what President Obama will do in case CIR officially dies.  Using DACA as a blueprint, it is expected that the president will give a permanent deferral on deportation for all eligible aliens that would allow them to get work permits, authentic Social Security numbers and a simple process to visit their native countries.

Likely reasons for extremely long delays in DACA approvals

Those DREAMers who have been waiting forever for DACA approval must not lose hope as long as they are eligible, completed the application accurately, provided all the evidence, and have a background that makes them eligible.  However, we maybe learning about some of the causes for delays of even over a year in approvals.  In evidence compiled by ACLU, Muslims are being targeted for greater scrutiny when it comes to approving applications.  There is no reason to believe that people of other faiths may also be targeted as long as there are national security concerns (the program is called Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program and does not mention Islam or terrorism and that is why it is fair to conclude that drug crimes or money laundering or cyber-crimes might be on the list).  It does not mean that you need to be a terrorist yourself to be targeted, but here are some of the things that can jeopardize your application:
  1. Being born in a country with terrorism.  Visits to such countries.  Even traveling through these countries can be a problem.
  2. Sending money to countries with terror links.
  3. Attending mosques where terrorists might hang out.
  4. Donating money to groups with suspected terrorism links (many religious charities are often fronts for terrorist groups who collect the money in the name of feeding hungry children but while 1% of the money maybe used for that purpose, the rest is used to fund training of terrorists)

Once the FBI puts a red flag on an applicant the approval is on hold.  In some cases, it may take years before the candidate is cleared, in other cases, there may be no approval if there is a serious doubt that the candidate could potentially use his/her legal status in the US for committing crimes.  So if you fit these criteria, you can find some explanation for what maybe causing the undue delay.

No prosecution for illegal employment or identity theft

We have already seen that many DREAMers who worked illegally using fraudulent documents or identity fraud (which are serious crimes under US law) were approved for DACA.  Legal experts concluded that without declaring so, the Obama Administration has essentially decided not to treat these as criminal actions by undocumented aliens (US citizens, however, will continue to be prosecuted for the same crimes).  We are now learning that this might very well be official policy, just not made public in a memo yet, because it will upset Americans and Republican politicians.

How did this come about?  Recently Danny's Family Carwash in Phoenix, AZ was raided by ICE, and except for a few staff members, all the rest were unauthorized workers who are in the country illegally.  While the illegal workers were arrested, they were all freed and will not be prosecuted or deported.  The comments by ICE spokesperson, Barbara Gonzalez, gave a hint of how the Obama Administration plans to deal with anyone working with a fake Social Security number or even a false identity using forged documents like green cards, Social Security cards, passports, driver's licenses, or claiming to be a US citizen.  She said, "As everyone here knows, we target employers, employers that aren't playing by the rules. We don't target the employees, we're targeting the companies that are not playing by the rules."


This is very positive news for undocumented immigrants who are unable to legalize their status right now.  They can now work without any fear of being caught merely for working illegally.  It is important to remember that just because President Obama is not enforcing these laws, it does not mean that those laws do not exist.  A Republican president might decide to enforce them.  Also, like any other legal resident, you can be caught and prosecuted for other crimes like drug possession, murder, DUI, etc.

Deferred Action for all DREAMers and other immigrants

When the president announced DACA he excluded many DREAMers but now with Comprehensive Immigration Reform all but dead, there is some promising news that Obama will declare a program similar to DACA for all undocumented immigrants.  It is expected that to get maximum political benefit the president will wait just as the 2014 midterm elections campaigning heats up, so I expect that it will be finalized around June 2014 and then applications will be accepted around August of next year.

What is the eligibility requirement?

Like the DACA program, you cannot have felonies on your criminal record, though, up to three misdemeanors will be allowed.  You will also need to show continuous presence for the approximate period of 2009~2014 and prove strong ties to the United States in form of employment, education or raising a family.  Parents of legal US residents (citizens, permanent residents, other legal status), parents of disabled family members, individuals who fear violence if they return home, victims of crimes, senior citizens, and DREAMers of any age will be eligible.


What is the application process?

You will be asked to complete an application that will include a separate application for a work permit in case you wish to have legal authorization for employment.  There will be a processing fee and after that you will be fingerprinted.  If all requirements are met, the application is complete, and the FBI gives a green light for your background check, you will receive an EAD, a valid Social Security number, and these can be used to apply for driver's license and advanced parole documents for restricted overseas travel.  While the program will not grant any legal status, it will definitely last till a Democrat is in the White House, but most experts believe that like TPS if such a program is put into place it will be impossible to repeal unless a crazy like Senator Ted Cruz becomes the president.

How to legally cross US border to seek asylum?

It seems that the Obama Administration is now encouraging DREAMers and other aliens to legalize their status through political asylum loophole because it is almost certain that Comprehensive Immigration Reform is dead.  For those of you who are risk takers and have the courage to do it, this is a very short window of opportunity to enter the United States legally, get a work permit, driver's license, and eventually a green card.  As already explained previously, it would be best to hire an excellent attorney to make the process go smoothly, but there are reports that immigrants who speak no English at all have been legally admitted into the United States after saying just the password "credible fear."  Basically this is a legal term that you have genuine fear of being persecuted or tortured either by a government or gang or group (e.g. if you are in a Catholic country and want to become a Protestant Christian you can even claim credible fear of persecution by fellow Christians or you can claim that you are being persecuted for not speaking Spanish or speaking it with an accent as DREAM9 members claimed).  For those of you who are planning to seek asylum in the United States, the best option is to claim fear of drug dealers and mafia members.


How to make sure that you have a rock solid case?  Get a good lawyer involved.  There are also reports that coyotes that specialize in immigrant smuggling are also provide fake documents related to ransom demands and are also beating up people to prove violence and abuse (they are also providing photos and doctor's certificates).  They also able to procure police reports from corrupt cops documenting the (fake) torture.

What will happen in the United States once you arrive?  Apparently, the system is so overwhelmed that you no longer have to live even in a prison.  American taxpayers are providing free hotels and food for asylum seekers.  Since there is enormous pressure on the government to keep these costs low, most likely you will be released right away and be able to purse your path to green card while living like a legal immigrant.  Many experts fear that the rules might change soon so the opportunity is short.  This path is perfect for those DREAMers who were deported or left voluntarily because they have nothing to lose.  Most likely they will not be covered by Obama Immigration Reform and trying to come any other way will take years.  The law and order situation in Central America and Mexico is so serious that everyone qualifies.

Should DREAMers self deport to legalize?

As you are aware, many DREAMers have exploited a loophole in advance parole to erase the EWI black mark on their immigration record.  The actions of DREAM9 have also shown that Obama Administration is hinting that asylum is an option if you do not have a case.  So is it legally advisable for DREAMers to consider self deportation, and then file a petition for asylum in the United States.  Clearly, if the United States Government thinks that Mexico is torturing and persecuting its own citizens just because of their ties to the United States, things in Central America are similar to war.

For whom self deportation is an option?  Clearly, if you were deported and are stuck in your native country, there is nothing to lose by trying to seek asylum in the US by essentially preparing the paperwork and showing up at a land crossing in Mexico.  Similarly, for those undocumented immigrants who came after the cutoff date for RPI status or do not have the documentation to support their presence here, since they will also not be covered by CIR, this is clearly an option to consider.  Yes, you be stuck in jail for months/years but you may also be released and be free to work legally, have a driver's license, and live a normal life.  That is exactly what DREAM9 by leaving the US.  They no longer have to care whether Comprehensive Immigration Reform passes or not because most likely they will get their green cards.


What are the risks of self deportation?  As anyone who has read the eligibility requirements for DACA or RPI knows that presence in the United States on a certain date is a must and so is that you did not leave the US during this time.  So by voluntarily leaving, you are creating a problem there, but if you do most of the preparation before walking into Mexico and spend only a few hours or even days in Mexico, you maybe able to exploit the loophole about brief and innocent absences (while many legal scholars will not consider it innocent if you leave deliberately with the aim of pursuing an asylum, the undeclared message from the Obama Administration is that they will look the other way as long as the immigrants are exploiting loopholes).  In other words, the risks are very small for a group of DREAMers and if you have an attorney working with you, it is possible to become legal without waiting for Congress to act.

How to erase record of my fake SSN?

Most working age DREAMers have used a false Social Security number in the United States to live their lives allowing them to attend college, open bank accounts, get credit cards, apply for car loans/mortgages, work, and even file taxes (incidentally, all of these are serious identity theft crimes and often felonies punishable by years in jail and even deportation, if caught).  With the help of DACA, many DREAMers now have valid Social Security numbers but looks like the weight of a fraudulent SSN is hanging around their necks.  Even if they leave their current jobs (where it is nearly impossible to switch fake SS#) and start new ones, the paper trail with old number is too huge.  For instance, school/college transcripts cannot be updated with new numbers.  Going to a bank and trying to modify the SSN will actually trigger a fraud investigation by the bank and lawsuits will soon follow (paying down the debts in full is not an option with mortgages for most).  Even worse, while the credit bureaus will happily take your new information and add it to their databases, the old information never goes away and will always be part of your credit history since the bureaus are notorious for errors in their reports, but more importantly, the approach of these institutions is to add whatever information that they can find on you even if it is inaccurate (the net result is that you have now permanently created a record of breaking the law and this can be an issue in jobs that require handling money, crime fighting, or intelligence).  So when you mail them a copy of your Social Security card or somehow the institution with which you are now doing business using your new real number, they simply add it to the file rather than delete the old one.  Being private companies, we have no control over what data they keep in their files.  The net result is that your credit record will always show your past because the bureaus use several identifiers (like phone numbers, addresses, credit accounts held, etc.) rather than just SSN.


So is it possible to start over with a clean slate after receiving a genuine SSN?  To the extent possible, try to change your number.  For instance, you can get a new job.  You can also close your old credit accounts by paying down the debts.  With regards to credit history, the financial institutions are more focused on your current income and your history of paying down past debts rather than what identifying information is on your file.  As long as you have a good record of paying down your debts and have the income to qualify for a loan, most likely the financial institution will ignore fraudulent information.  Maybe it will be a problem in situation where the investigation in your background will be more thorough but if you live a crime-free life, employers and institutions will ignore the offending information.  Inconveniences due to negative information are simply a small price to pay for past unlawful status.

Asylum options for DREAMers

While DACA has provided some DREAMers with a work permit and deferral on deportation, the strict eligibility requirements left out many of them.  For instance, many of them who arrived after the cutoff date or are older than 31 or do not have a high school diploma or have a criminal history.  Since there is a high probability that Comprehensive Immigration Reform is not going become law any time soon (even if it does, it will not be comprehensive and millions will be ineligible), DREAMers now have another option: asylum in the United States.  The recent decision in the case of DREAM 9 individuals (Lizbeth Mateo, Claudia Amaro, Ceferino Santiago, Lulu Martinez, Marco Saavedra, Luis Leon, Maria Peniche, Adriana Gil Diaz, and Mario Felix) that they were allowed to seek political asylum means that the United States Government is now encouraging immigrants to seek this route if no other options are open to them to immigrate legally to the USA.

How to exploit the asylum law loopholes to become legal?

  1. Don't try this DIY.  Get the most competent attorney you can afford and make sure this lawyer knows how to deal with asylum cases.  The downside is that if your asylum petition is denied, you will be deported and a ban may be imposed on reentry into the US.  Therefore, it is absolutely critical for you to think it through based on legal advice and choose this path only if you will be fine returning your native country.
  2. Get your paperwork in order.  Remember that President Barack Obama is offering asylum even to Mexicans.  In fact all these aliens were in Mexico free and happy and there is no proof that they were tortured by the Mexican Government or that they faced any threats to their lives.  In other words, the Government is ignoring the need to prove fear of persecution.  So if you have even a remote fear of persecution, try to collect evidence.
  3. Go to Mexico (you don't have to be a citizen of Mexico to go there).  The border crossing points have one way open door to Mexico without the presence of any immigration agents and you can basically just walk in.  If it is an option, use the opportunity to meet with friends and family or even take a vacation, but you could turn right back and join the long lines to cross the border into the United States.  If you can do that in a group, even better, but you can also do it alone.
  4. Present yourself to the border agent with your paperwork and formally request an asylum.
  5. You will be immediately arrested.  Obey all orders and do what you are told (the officers are armed and authorized to shoot if you do something stupid).  Stay calm and do not talk unnecessarily.  Go to the detention center and stay out of trouble (no need to scream or protest or go on a hunger strike).
  6. The process of asylum will start and just follow it.  You will be told what to do by officers.  Use a prison pay-phone to stay in touch with your attorney and family.  Your lawyer will have already prepared you to answer all questions.
  7. Most likely, you will be released free and then you can apply for a work permit, driver's license, advanced parole (just don't travel to the country that you accused of torturing you because that will hurt your refugee case), and will be to live like any other legal immigrant for years because the cases can drag in the courts.
  8. Hope that your asylum petition will be approved and that point you will be eligible for a green card and eventually citizenship.