Congressman Promises Fix After I-Team Uncovers Family Court Immigration Scheme

A federal lawmaker is exploring ways to fix loopholes in immigration laws after the I-Team uncovered evidence of an organized scheme to exploit the Queens Family Court for a fast track to green cards. 

“An investigation by NBC New York has uncovered an apparent conspiracy to commit fraud in order to obtain special immigrant juvenile visas," Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican who chairs the powerful House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. "As this investigation seems to reveal, word has spread that it’s easy to game our immigration system." 

Goodlatte promised to explore the problem a week after the I-Team revealed that a federal law intended to protect abused child victims of sex trafficking is being exploited as a shortcut to legal immigration status, according to Queens Family Court insiders.

Those insiders told the I-Team that over the last year, hundreds of young men from the same part of India told very similar stories in order to get special access to green cards. Judges say they have no way of verifying their tales.

“In my opinion, the process is faulty,” Queens Family Court Judge John Hunt told the I-Team in an exclusive report.

Hunt tells said it is virtually impossible to verify the facts needed to know if these young men actually qualify. But since there's no proof they don't qualify, they move through the system.

In a months-long investigation, the I-Team interviewed judges, clerks, lawyers and Punjabi translators in these cases. The insiders told the I-Team they fear these undocumented young men are illegally crossing the U.S. border with the knowledge that they can head to family court for help getting special immigration status. It’s a little known route they’ve learned to navigate with the help of lawyers and criminal human smugglers who sources tell the I-Team are profiting.

After the I-Team investigation, Family Court authorities asked the feds for help and lawmakers on both side of the aisle vowed action.  

Mayor Bill de Blasio also said he is "very, very concerned" after watching the I-Team report.  

"The situation of protecting those who have been actually subject to abuse and are actually seeking asylum is a pretty sacred reality, and should never be in any way be subject to fraud," de Blasio said. "It also worries me if it’s causing a lot of other important work in the family court not to be done. We know family court is incredibly overloaded to begin with, so that deeply worries me."

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