US Government Cracks Down on Fraudulent Immigration Applications

In July, four Jacksonville, Florida residents originally from the Philippines were charged with marriage fraud, immigration document fraud, lying to a federal agency, and conspiracy. They face a maximum penalty of 15 to 25 years in prison, if found guilty of all charges. According to the indictment, one of the defendants, Peter Barlaan, a naturalized US citizen contracted a sham marriage with his son’s girlfriend Mary (now Mary Barlaan) in order to enable her to obtain Lawful Permanent Resident status. Thereafter, Peter Barlaan’s son, Mark Barlaan, also entered a fraudulent marriage with a U.S. citizen named Winnie (now Winnie Barlaan) for the purpose of obtaining Lawful permanent residence. The father allegedly paid several thousand dollars to Winnie to induce her to marry his son and cooperate in the immigration application process and interview. The indictment claims that all four individuals made false statements under oath, and conspired together to defraud the government.

On July 9, 2015, Buyantod Thomas, a San-Francisco area non-lawyer was sentenced to prison for assisting natives of Mongolia in filing fraudulent asylum applications. The conviction was obtained after an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Legitimate asylum seekers must have suffered or fear persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Ms. Thomas assisted dozens of individuals who did not have well-founded fear of persecution in creating false statements and false documents.