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Accusations of immigration fraud turn into international dispute

It can be terrifying to have to defend oneself against any kind of criminal charges, but accusations of federal crimes bring their own special complications. Atlanta residents may have read about how one woman's recent case has developed into an international incident.

A diplomat for the Indian government was arrested last month in the United States on charges of fraud and immigration offenses. According to federal prosecutors, she lied in a visa application for her housekeeper, who traveled from India to work for the diplomat in New York. American officials said the diplomat told them that she would be paying the housekeeper according to U.S. minimum wage and hour laws, but in fact paid her less than minimum wage and required her to work much more than 40 hours a week.

The Indian government was angered by the U.S. government's actions, arguing that the diplomat should have been protected under international agreements about diplomatic immunity. The Indian public was further outraged by reports that U.S. police subjected the diplomat to a strip search after her arrest. American authorities have said that a strip search is standard procedure, but the news was offensive to many Indians' standards of modesty.

The incident has inspired huge protests in India, and the Indian government has gone so far as to remove concrete barriers at the U.S. Embassy in Delhi, which were designed to protect it from terrorists. At some point after her arrest, the diplomat returned to India, but the Indian government has been arguing for the United States to drop its charges so that she can return. Her children remain in the United States.

This case is unusual, to say the least, but all charges of immigration offenses have the potential to be extremely complicated and to have serious consequences for everyone involved. When Atlanta residents face allegations of immigration fraud or other federal crimes, they need the help of defense attorneys with experience in many aspects of federal defense.

Source: CNN, "Indian diplomat seeks dismissal of charges, return to U.S." Allison Malloy, Jan. 15, 2014

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Former Federal Prosecutors

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