Robert DeKelaita, a Chicago-based immigration attorney, was indicted following his client’s admission to authorities that Mr. DeKelaita advised him to lie on his asylum application. Mr. DeKelaita specializes in representing Iraqi Christians. DeKelaita has been said to have continuously told his clients to distort their past when being interviewed by immigration authorities.
According to the September 23 indictment, the misinformation included “false names, false religions, false dates of travel, false dates of entry into the United States,” among a host of other falsifications. The indictment further charges that he “wrote and created false asylum statements detailing non-existent accounts of purported religious persecution, including fictitious accounts of rape and murder, and attached these statements to the [CIS] Form I-589 he submitted on behalf of his clients.”
Mr. DeKelaita’s translator also faces indictment for “mistranslat[ing] answers given by the clients and add[ing] testimony not actually stated by the clients during the course of the asylum interviews.”
U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon charged Mr. DeKelaita with three counts of immigration fraud, three counts of suborning perjury and one count of conspiracy to commit immigration and naturalization fraud.
According to federal law, asylum is only granted upon proof of persecution “on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, or had a well-founded fear of persecution.” Those that are granted asylum are eligible to receive lawful permanent residency, and possibly naturalized U.S. citizenship.
Several clients have allegedly been coached to present false information by Mr. DeKelaita. M.J., a client of DeKelaita’s, was reportedly advised to tell federal immigration officers that she had been threatened by Muslim extremists. Another client, identified as “Client H.A.,” falsely claimed that his house in Iraq had been burned down by Islamic extremists and that his brother was “put on an elimination list.”