Whether former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, raped a chambermaid in a Manhattan hotel in May is a matter still to be determined. And the fact that the alleged victim had admittedly committed various forms of fraud in no way diminishes from the seriousness of the crime, if a crime indeed occurred, or should shield Strauss-Kahn from punishment if he is found guilty.
As the Manhattan District Attorney’s case unraveled over the 4th of July weekend, the public also learned how America’s asylum policies are manipulated and abused by those seeking a shortcut to U.S. residency. And, much like President Obama’s aunt, who managed to twist the system in knots before the system finally yielded and gave her what she wanted, the Guinean chambermaid has also been defrauding American taxpayers since she filed an asylum petition in 2004.
Among the things we know occurred:
➢ The alleged victim fabricated at least two claims in her asylum application. Her statement to authorities was concocted with the help of a male accomplice who provided her with an audio cassette which she memorized.
➢ She misrepresented her income in order to qualify for public housing.
➢ She declared a friend’s child on her tax returns to increase her tax refund.
➢ While living in New York, she had some $100,000 deposited to her bank account in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
➢ She had five phones from five different service providers.
➢ The day after the alleged rape the woman placed a call to a fellow Guinean who is being held in an immigration detention facility in Arizona, charged with possession of 400 pounds of marijuana. During the call, which was recorded by immigration authorities, she stated, “Don’t worry, this guy [Strauss-Kahn] has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing.”
The fabrication of stories in order to gain political asylum is not unique to this case. The New York Times reports that “A shadowy industry dedicated to asylum fraud thrives in New York, where many of the country’s asylum claims are filed. Immigrants peddle personal accounts ripped from international headlines, con artists prey on the newly arrived and nonlawyers offer misguided advice.”
According to the Times, “law enforcement officials say [that bogus asylum claims] are among the most common immigration frauds, and the hardest to detect and investigate.” And even when fraud is detected, the case of the Guinean chambermaid also reveals that people who defraud our asylum system know they have nothing to fear from being caught. With very good reason, the woman seemingly believed that committing tax fraud on top of asylum fraud would not result in her removal from the United States. In spite of changing her story twice, she remains in the country nearly seven years after initially filing her petition.
What should be even more obvious is the need to expedite the removal of people who file fraudulent claims in order to protect both the American people and people who truly are deserving of humanitarian protection by the United States.