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When Immigration Lawyers Make Stuff Up

From opposite U.S. coasts come disturbingly parallel stories of immigration lawyers allegedly resorting to fraud to win legal residency for untold numbers of undocumented immigrants. While one case just concluded, the other is just coming to light, leaving the legal status of dozens of the lawyer's clients in limbo.

The first case comes out of Sacramento, where the blog Legal Pad reports that three Northern California attorneys have been convicted of filing hundreds of fraudulent asylum applications. Attorneys Jagprit Singh Sekhon, 39, of Westminster, Calif.; his brother Jagdip Singh Sekhon, 42, of Salida, Calif.; and Manjit Kaur Rai, 33, of Discovery Bay, Calif., were convicted of conspiracy to defraud federal immigration agencies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District announced.

In a press statement cited by Legal Pad, prosecutors said the lawyers, working for the Sacramento and San Francisco firm Sekhon & Sekhon, submitted asylum applications, primarily for Indian and Romanian nationals, "containing fictitious stories of persecution that the clients had supposedly suffered in their home countries."

The three attorneys denied making up information. They said they relied on information given to them by their clients. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 16.

Meanwhile, in Boston, federal immigration authorities have begun rejecting dozens of immigration applications filed by lawyer John K. Dvorak, The Boston Globe reports. Officials allege they have found fraud, such as fake employment letters, in a significant number of Dvorak's cases.

"The unexpected action is wreaking havoc from Maine to Cape Cod," the newspaper says. "Immigrants who plunked down hard-earned cash with high hopes of staying in America are now racing to other lawyers for help. Those lawyers say dozens of immigrants with legitimate cases have been unfairly swept up in the federal government's action."

The attorney has not been charged with any crime and remains a lawyer in good standing in Massachusetts and in the federal immigration courts, the article notes.

Word of these rejections is coming not from official sources, but from other lawyers who have taken over cases formerly handled by Dvorak. They cite rejection letters sent to clients by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. "Interviews of the beneficiaries established that many of the beneficiaries were instructed by Attorney Dvorak and his associates to obtain fraudulent employment letters," a June 2 letter said. "Several interviews confirmed the law office obtained the fraudulent letters for the beneficiaries."

Whether or not the allegations prove to be true, they are creating panic and concern among immigrants and within the Brazilian community from which many of Dvorak's clients came. "This has really affected hundreds of families," William Joyce, an immigration lawyer who now represents 40 of Dvorak’s former clients, told the Globe. "It’s a real mess. This whole thing is outrageous."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on June 29, 2009 at 02:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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