On Monday, an attorney from the northern suburbs of Chicago was convicted by a federal jury of trying to aid his clients to get asylum within the United States by falsifying the information he sent to immigration authorities on their behalf. 53-year-old Robert DeKelaita of Glenview in Illinois was found guilty of conspiracy to commit asylum fraud, procuring perjury in asylum interviews, and two counts of knowingly giving false statements in an application for asylum.
DeKelaita received money from undocumented immigrants in order for him to send the falsified documents to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, with his false statements often painting his clients out to have been the victims of religious persecution while in the Middle East.
A sentencing hearing has been set for the August 3 by US District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly and DeKelaita could be facing a maximum sentence of 35 years behind bars. The US government grants asylum to immigrants who have been persecuted in their homeland or who have a reasonable fear of being persecuted in the future because of their race, nationality, political opinion, religion or membership within a specific social group.
In order to put in an application for asylum, immigrants must detail not only their personal history but also specific instances of persecution. The application must be signed by the immigrant, their attorney and, if appropriate, a translator. Immigration authorities then interview all concerned. Two interpreters were also charged, Yousif Yousif and Adam Benjamin. Yousif is still awaiting sentencing, while Benjamin was given six months in jail last year.