This week, the 11th Circuit issued a decision regarding a frivolous asylum application. On its face, the decision is very fact-specific, and perhaps not terrifically useful for analogizing to other cases. But there were two things that struck me while I was reading the decision.
1) During her proceedings, the petitioner requested to see the original version of a government-produced document, but was only provided with a photocopy. The 11th Circuit saw no error here, stating that there is no requirement that the Government turn over original documents. I thought about the many times that I've heard Immigration Judges require that an immigrant provide their original birth certificate, passport, medical records, etc. in order to allow the Government to test them for fraud. The double standard seems unfair - if the Government is entitled to an immigrant's original documents to verify their authenticity, why isn't the immigrant entitled to the same process? Which perhaps harkens to a larger issue in the law that governs the admission of evidence in Immigration Court - why are public or government records sometimes considered inherently reliable?
2) Perhaps the more tangible thought I had while reading the decision was about the potentially dire consequences of hiring a non-attorney to complete the asylum application. Frivolous asylum applications are lifetime bars to immigration benefits. In this cost, it cost the woman her ability to apply for permanent residence through her U.S.-citizen husband. It's a reminder of how important it is to hire a qualified attorney to assist with an immigration process, and how important it is that the legal community educate our wider communities about immigration fraud.
The full text of Indrawati v. Attorney General can be found here: http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/201312071.pdf