The uncomfortable truth is there is no sure-fire way to prevent fraud. The very nature of asylum requires officials to take people at their word to a certain extent. Documents and witness testimony are available in some instances, but short of personally traveling to conflict zones like Syria or lawless corners of Somalia and Pakistan, there is often no way for officials (or journalists, for that matter) to independently verify the stories asylum seekers tell them.

A 31-year-old Pakistani man named Khan incarcerated at a New Jersey detention facility says he has spent the past seven months behind bars waiting for a decision on his asylum claim. He says he was forced to flee his home in Pakistan's tribal region after the Taliban executed his parents and threatened to kill him, his wife, and their children.

"The Taliban, they killing all the time," Khan says in broken English. To emphasize this point, he lifts his hands and makes a tat-tat-tat noise as if hoisting a machine gun. "The Taliban doesn't know the word 'sorry.' You may be fine for one year, two year, three year, four year — then maybe 15 years they come for you."

Cecilia Cortes is in detention indefinitely, even though she had lived in Florida for ten years and her children are citizens. The family fled from drug-related gang violence in Mexico.
Courtesy of Javier Galvan
Cecilia Cortes is in detention indefinitely, even though she had lived in Florida for ten years and her children are citizens. The family fled from drug-related gang violence in Mexico.
Women wait outside the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, where 700 detainees are housed. Most do not have criminal records.
Jacob Katel
Women wait outside the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, where 700 detainees are housed. Most do not have criminal records.

Khan explains that a judge had asked him for police reports of the killing and death certificates for his parents, but those records either didn't exist or were impossible for his friends and family in Pakistan to obtain. It's likely impossible to verify his story without visiting his village to investigate.

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1 comments
KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII topcommenter

Laws and sanctions go hand in hand. Without sanctions laws and rules are merely suggestions.

 
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