Pretending to Be Gay for Political Asylum

We love a good twist on the immigration debate. Rather than trying to gain entry to the U.S. by claiming you will be persecuted at home for your religious beliefs, why not say you need asylum because you will be persecuted for being gay? It’s a valid reason to us … unless, of course, you’re straight and just pretending to be gay to secure asylum. The government considers that fraud — and worth jailing you for.

A federal grand jury has charged two people in an alleged immigration fraud conspiracy, saying they advised straight immigrants to claim homosexuality – and potential persecution in their home countries – when they applied for political asylum.

Steven Mahoney, 41, and his estranged wife, Helen, 38, both naturalized U.S. citizens from Russia, were arrested Tuesday and pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court.

Prosecutors say Steve Mahoney ran Mahoney and Associates in Kent, and held himself out as an expert in immigration affairs. They say he made money by advising immigrants on how to stay in the U.S.

According to an indictment unsealed Tuesday, from 2003 to 2005 Steven Mahoney advised two immigrants to falsely claim that they were gay and feared persecution if they returned to their home country. In two other cases dating to 1998, he is accused of urging clients to claim they feared being maimed or tortured, though the indictment does not say if they too falsely said they were gay. [Seattle Times]

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  • seitan-on-a-stick

    What happens if you are Gay pretending to be straight pretending to be Gay? Victor-Victoria wants to know!

  • RS

    Trying to figure this story out … so it’s not the asylum-seekers who’ve been imprisoned but their advisers? (Actually, the article doesn’t even specify if the asymlum-seekers made the claim they were advised to make.)

    Well, I’m all for allowing people to claim anti-gay persecution as a means of seeking asylum, but I wouldn’t oppose requiring them to prove it in front of witnesses.

  • Smokey Martini

    If you’re concerned about the approval of gay marriage, you’d also be up in arms about the sham marriages that are used to acquire immigrant papers – no doubt a threat to the “authenticity” of the marriage YOU want. That’s just an aside…

    But the real solution to all this (if you consider faking gay and wedding shams a problem) is to loosen immigration laws. Then people wouldn’t feel so compelled to marry for papers or to pass off as a persecuted homo. Seems reasonable to me!

  • Jaroslaw

    I hope someone will answer how immigration policy is determined. (how many, from which countries, under what circumstances..)

    While I don’t envy the person who has the job to say “no” to a truly tragic situation, we can’t take in the whole world either.

    I’m directing this to you, Mr. Martini! (loosening up the laws sounds good but we can’t keep people out now!)

  • Smokey Martini

    Right back at ya, Jaroslaw: What’s with the frenzied attempt to keep people out?

  • Darth Paul

    @Smokey Martini: How about we let whoever in, but make them wear implanted radio tags? That way, no one is happy.

    Fraud is fraud, and faking the gay is just another means when it comes to immigration…not to mention tons easier and cheaper than setting up a fake marriage to a female (or vice versa).

  • Jaroslaw

    Come on Smokey – we’ve bantered before…. Frenzied attempt to keep people out? I said we can’t take in the whole world. There’s a slight difference.

    And my reference to “keeping people out” is the fact that people are sneaking in by the thousands illegally practically every month or are you unaware of that?

    I’m not suggesting the borders be closed, but just as a theoretical question: why do countries take people in and if one (such as the United States) decided to stop immigration, what law, rule or principle says we MUST take in people? We’re not exactly doing a bang up job with health care, schooling, homelessness etc. for the people already here.

    Check out Scandinavia – one of the most generous welfare states where they really take care of people. Norway for example has the lowest incarceration rate and lowest recidivism rate in the world. Healthy people between certain ages are REQUIRED to do volunteer work to help the elderly and others (please do not digress into a discussion about the contradiction of required volunteer work) anyway there was a 60 Minutes report on this (among other sources I am using) and people voted for MORE taxation.

    What a concept! Society exists for ALL its members not just the corporations!

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