Lawmaker: Asylum fraud could be costing taxpayers billions

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A recent report revealing possible rampant fraud in asylum applications has House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte wondering just how much it might be costing taxpayers.

“In 2012, 29,484 aliens were granted asylum,” Goodlatte said during a House panel hearing on asylum fraud Tuesday. “I am sending a letter to the Government Accountability Office to determine what the cost of these benefits are to the American taxpayer.”

An internal report from 2009 released last week found that in a sample of applications in 2005, 70 percent contained proven or possible fraud.

“If 70% of these grants were made based on fraudulent applications, American taxpayers are being defrauded out of hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars each year,” Goodlatte said.

The Virginia Republican is interested in the question because those who attain asylum status are immediately eligible for major federal welfare programs.

“An overwhelming amount of fraud exists in the process and little is done to address it,” he said. “Individuals are showing up in droves at the border to make out asylum claims. Adjudicators have the general mindset that they must “get to yes” in order to have successful careers. It is apparent that the rule of law is being ignored and there is an endemic problem within the system that the Administration is ignoring.”

Goodlatte further noted that a failure to address the “problems undermines the goodwill and trust necessary to develop a common sense step by step approach to improving our immigration laws.”

Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers stressed that despite Republican concerns about immigration enforcement, President Obama is “enforcing our immigration laws vigorously, a lot more than some of us would like.”

He went on to attack Republicans for failing to go along with immigration reform due to their distrust that President Obama will follow the law, pointing out that the data in the 2009 report are not Obama’s fault and detailing how the system has been improved since 2005.

“I guess it is just easier to blame President Obama,” he said.

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