At least 10 more Falun Gong practitioners are seeking political asylum in the United States as the crackdown intensifies on the mainland, immigration lawyers believe. The New York lawyers representing Chen Rong - the 17-year-old Fujian girl who 10 days ago became the first Falun Gong member granted asylum in the United States - say they are expecting a flood of new cases. 'We've already got at least 10 more people we are now moving through the system since Chen Rong . . . we could be looking at a whole new category of asylum seeker,' said Raymond Fasano, a partner with the Madeo and Fasano law firm. 'We understand that this could turn out to be start of a real flood of migrants.' Both State Department and Immigration and Naturalisation Service officials said privately they were bracing for a surge in possible asylum cases but that each case would be handled on its merits. 'No matter how serious things get in China with this crackdown, this is not a matter of the US Government or courts suddenly targeting the Falun Gong,' an immigration official said. 'There is a long history that shows simply being member of a certain organisation is not enough to get into this country. It is the evidence of persecution and the fear of prosecution that is the key in every case.' The State Department is monitoring the situation. Department sources said they feared any deterioration in the situation could increase pressure to the still shaky ties. The State Department has repeatedly protested against the treatment of sect followers on the mainland, saying the Government saw little justification in a 'crackdown that is a violation of international standards on human rights'. It has demanded the release of detained members as soon as possible. Foreign Ministry officials in Beijing last week protested against the decision by a New York court that, according to Mr Fasano, recognised Ms Chen would face persecution, prison and torture for practising Falun Gong. 'We demand the US Government correct this erroneous act of the immigration authorities so as to avoid bringing more difficulties to ties,' Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said. The case followed Ms Chen's arrest at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport as she tried to enter with a fake US passport. The 10 others were understood to have tried to enter the same way. The US, meanwhile, has ignored demands lodged by China through Interpol to arrest Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi on tax evasion and cult-related charges.