Rachel Weiner reports:
“When Yousif Al Mashhadani came to the United States as a refugee in 2008, he told officials he had been kidnapped in his native Iraq because of his anti-corruption efforts and wanted to come to America for his own safety.
Now, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia say Al Mashhadani lied about being kidnapped and about his own connection to a vicious kidnapper.
On Tuesday, Al Mashhadani, his brother Adil Hasan, and Hasan’s wife, Enas Ibrahim, appeared in court on charges of naturalization fraud.
All three live in Fairfax County; they moved here from Iraq in 2008. But when they applied to become lawful permanent U.S. residents, none of them acknowledged a relationship to Majid Al Mashhadani, a convicted kidnapper who is Yousif Al Mashhadani and Hasan’s brother, an affidavit from FBI agent Sean MacDougal said.”
Obviously, the defendants are innocent until proven guilty. But, if the Government does prove these charges, then these three individuals have not only compromised the integrity of the U.S. refugee system, but also endangered the lives of many Iraqis who legitimately qualify for protection, but are caught up in the anti-refugee hysteria being promoted by the Trump Administration. Cases like this damage the chances of all legitimate refugees to receive the life-saving protection which they need and deserve.
I’d also like to put in a good word for the DHS criminal enforcement operation. Taking apart complicated cases like this and developing them into viable criminal prosecutions takes skill, sophisticated knowledge, perseverance, and dogged attention to detail.
My personal experience has been that the DHS generally does an outstanding job of ferreting out and prosecuting refugee and asylum fraud, even when, as here, the cases takes years to develop. Then, cases that shouldn’t have been granted are reopened, status is revoked, and removal proceedings are instituted.
During my time at the Arlington Immigration Court, the DHS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria “broke” major asylum fraud cases relating to Indonesians and Cameroonians. The principals went to jail and those who knowingly participated in the fraud had their status revoked and were removed from the United States. So, in the end, the DHS did their job well, and justice was served.
As a judge, I was an adjudicator, not an investigator. So, I appreciated the investigative skills of those who brought the truth to light and thereby helped us keep our system honest.