By Alex Robinson
A Flushing deacon was convicted last week of immigration fraud after she coached asylum seekers how to lie on their applications, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan said.
Liying Lin, 30, conducted training sessions in which she would fabricate stories to support fraudulent asylum claims, according to the indictment filed in the Manhattan federal court.
“Liying Lin fraudulently exploited a program designed to provide a safe haven for actual victims of persecution,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
Her biweekly sessions for asylum seekers would be held at the Full Gospel Global Mission Church in Flushing, at 42-60 Colden St., Suite 1A, where she worked, and were given in exchange for donations, according to the indictment. She also sometimes received direct payments in return for the service, the indictment said.
One-on-one training sessions were also on offer, but would cost applicants a larger cash donation, the indictment said.
In her sessions, she would brief applicants on the kinds of questions they would be asked about religious persecution and how to answer them, according to Bharara’s office, and she would also provide baptism documents for additional cash.
After the training, Lin would serve as a translator in the applicants’ interviews and would kick them if they gave an answer that deviated from what she had coached them to say, the court papers said.
If asylum seekers ever gave an answer in Chinese that was not consistent with the tale Lin had fabricate for them, she would falsely translate what they had said, according to the indictment.
Immigration laws require that an asylum seeker show they have suffered persecution in their home country or at least a well-founded fear they might be persecuted if they return.
Lin’s arrest in 2012, along with 25 others, was the culmination of a three-year investigation by the FBI and part of a federal crackdown on immigration fraud.
Others charged in the investigation included Flushing translators, lawyers and paralegals, the indictment said.
After a seven-day trial, the jury unanimously found Lin guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and two counts of immigration fraud. She was acquitted of one count of immigration fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Lin, who will be sentenced June 2, faces a maximum of five years in prison for the conspiracy count and up to 10 years for each immigration fraud count.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.