NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors say law firms serving Chinese immigrants around New York City systematically submitted fraudulent asylum applications and coached applicants on how to lie to federal authorities to back up fictitious persecution stories.
Investigators say some of the applications also falsely claimed that asylum seekers were forced to have abortions because of China's family planning policies.
Authorities believe the scheme went on for as a decade and allowed an untold number of immigrants to stay in the country illegally.
Indictments unsealed Tuesday charged 26 people working with at least 10 firms in separate but overlapping conspiracies to commit immigration fraud.
Among those charged were six attorneys, four translators and a church employee. The church worker allegedly provided training for non-Christian applicants pretending to be Christians subject to religious persecution.