Requesting asylum in the United States is not a particularly promising way of legalization. However, if you’re from one particular country you’ll be given preferred status. Due to laws passed by the U.S. Congress, individuals who can establish birth in that country are granted asylum and put on a fast track to naturalization. This impacts California and other states but is most crucial in connection with the southern coastal areas that provide direct ocean access to refugees from that island-country.
Immigrants from that country get work permits, a driver’s license and social security with no further ado. That’s why a fraudulent industry based on pandering false birth certificates from that country has flourished. But federal agencies have caught onto the fraud and are now investigating furiously to prevent false asylum claims.
The country, of course, is the island of Cuba. The task force set up to combat fraudulent Cuban asylum claims is called Operation Havana Gateway. There have been 40 arrests since it was started. Investigators are going back as far as five years, the applicable statute of limitations, in search of fraudulent asylum claims.
According to U.S. Homeland Securities investigators, the scam starts with the purchase of a Cuban birth certificate. These sell for between $10,000 and $20,000. Court documents show that one conspiracy is accused of selling fraudulent documents to at least 50 illegal aliens.
It collected over $500,000 in illegal proceeds. Furthermore, birth certificates are not yet computerized in Cuba, making the fraud particularly feasible. The executive director of a group called Americans for Immigrant Justice says that it’s clear that Cubans are treated better than any other group. And she says that’s been the case for decades.
Cubans receive a green card after being in the United States for a year and a day, which is much sooner than any other immigrants. Some Cuban imposters who are caught and find themselves accused of fraud will ‘self-deport’ before full discovery and criminal charges. In California, whether you have a legitimate claim for asylum or some other claim for legalization of your status or of a family member, you can obtain a safe, confidential and thorough consultation with an experienced immigration attorney to learn your options and rights.
Source: CNN, “Fake Cubans hoping for fast track to citizenship now under scrutiny,” Kim Segal and Sara Ganim, Aug. 2, 2013