Argued February 10, 2014
On Petition for Review of a Final Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. No. A 097 599 836.
For Iuliu Ioan Albu, Petitioner: June Jasmine Htun, Attorney, Chicago, IL.
For ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., Attorney General of the United States, Respondent: Karen L. Melnik, Attorney, OIL, Attorney, Department of Justice, Civil Division, Immigration Litigation, Washington, DC.
Before WOOD, Chief Judge, HAMILTON, Circuit Judge, and KENDALL, District Judge.[*]
Wood, Chief Judge.
Petitioner Iuliu Ioan Albu is a Romanian citizen who applied for asylum in the United States in 2003. His application would have been deficient in a number of ways, but at the prompting of his attorney he decided to solve that problem by papering over his shortcomings with lies. When his deceit came to light, he found himself on the business end of 8 U.S.C. § 1158(d)(6), which makes any person who files a frivolous asylum application permanently ineligible for any immigration benefits whatsoever. He was placed in removal proceedings, and in due course both the Immigration Judge (IJ) and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) applied section 1158(d)(6)'s statutory bar and denied him cancellation of removal. He has petitioned for review of that decision, but we find no error, and so we deny his petition.
Albu arrived in the United States from Romania in 1999. Sometime between then and 2003, he retained a California attorney named Jagprit Sekhon to file an asylum application on his behalf. Sekhon, it turned out, was a specialist in the field of false asylum applications; in 2009 he was convicted of asylum fraud for filing more than 1200 false applications. See News Release, " 3 Sacramento attorneys receive lengthy sentences in asylum fraud scheme investigated by ICE HSI," Immigration & Customs Enforcement (Sept. 24, 2010), http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1009/100924sacramento.htm (last visited August 5, 2014). The Romanian interpreter who worked with Albu was convicted in the same prosecution.
In Albu's case, Sekhon did more than just shore up his client's claim of a well-founded fear of persecution. He began by falsely alleging that Albu was arrested and beaten by Romanian police on account of his Hungarian background and Pentecostal religion. There was a grain of truth there: Albu was indeed of Hungarian descent, but he did not convert to Pentecostalism until he arrived in the United States, and he never suffered official mistreatment in Romania on that basis. Sekhon also falsified Albu's date of entry into the United States in order to avoid the statutory requirement that asylum applications be filed within one year of entry. See 8 U.S.C. § 1158(a)(2)(B). Before Albu met with an asylum officer for an interview in California (because Sekhon had also falsely represented that Albu lived there rather than at his real home in Illinois), Sekhon gave Albu the fraudulent application and told
him to memorize the details. Albu complied.
Albu's signed application contained the warning, " Applicants determined to have knowingly made a frivolous application for asylum will be permanently ineligible for any benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act." On top of that, when he attended his asylum interview Albu signed an oath stating that he knew that he was required to tell the truth under penalty of perjury, and that he would be " permanently ineligible for any benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act if [he] knowingly made a frivolous application for asylum." He was accompanied by a Romanian interpreter at ...