Members of a Long Island family from Israel will be allowed to stay in the United States after being victimized by a massive suspected immigration fraud ring, according to their attorney and a family spokesman.
Three Sebagh family members, who were at risk of being deported, received letters March 14 from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which granted the Roslyn Heights residents special status to remain in the United States, said Yitzhak Sebagh, a son and the family's spokesman. He declined to comment further.
The immigration service gave Sebagh's mother, Yael, his brother Daniel and sister Mali "deferred action," allowing them to stay in the country and get a work card, attorney Jason Abrams said. Yitzhak Sebagh has a valid U.S. visa, the attorney noted.
The Sebagh family emigrated from Israel in 1996 and was featured in a Jan. 25 Newsday story about the indictment of former Manhattan immigration attorney Earl David. He was accused of taking high fees in return for securing legal immigration status for about 25,000 clients based largely on phony claims that U.S. employers had sponsored them. David, 47, an Orthodox Jewish scholar, was accused of laundering money from the scheme through a bank account used to market a Torah treatise. David is in federal custody and his defense attorney, Avraham Moskowitz, declined to comment Tuesday.
In the Sebaghs' case, family visa applications were made a "mess" and tainted with falsehoods allegedly made by David without their knowledge, Abrams wrote in a 2010 letter seeking deferred action from the immigration services. Because of the way David's firm handled his visa application, Henri Sebagh, Yitzhak's 53-year-old father, was forced to give up a job as an information technology specialist and return to Israel in late 2010, leaving the rest of the family in Roslyn Heights, Yitzak said.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's staff contacted the immigration service about the Sebaghs' plight in 2011. An immigration services spokesman declined to comment, citing confidentiality laws.
Henri Sebagh will be allowed to return to the United States when a special visa category for his job opens up in October, Abrams said.
In October, David was arrested in Canada, where federal prosecutors said he had fled to avoid the fraud inquiry. He is trying to get five relatives to guarantee a $1.5 million bail bond, records show.