The stories below are based off real client experiences. However, all names and specific details have been altered as a matter of privacy and confidentiality.
Scammers have preyed on the immigrant community for decades. Undocumented immigrants live everyday in fear of being deported and separated from their family. They are particularly vulnerable to scammers because of their desire for status and protection. Undocumented immigrants with poor English comprehension and lack of formal education are particularly vulnerable. Attorneys, real and pretend, (often called “notarios”) play on these fears and promise legal status to undocumented immigrants. They file bogus applications or simply do nothing; they know the victims will not go after them out of fear of deportation. Instead of legal status, these victims are usually placed in deportation proceedings, leaving their lives and families in jeopardy.
Juan and Cindy were two of these victims. They have two children, both born in the U.S. They both work to provide for their children, but they keep a low profile. Something as simple as a broken taillight could lead to an arrest and potential deportation. Like any good parents, they desire stability and protection for their children. So they sought legal help. They went to an attorney who spoke Spanish to them and made them comfortable. He promised them legal status – a work permit, a social security card and a driver’s license. This is what Juan and Cindy needed so they paid the attorney. They were protected – at least they thought.
Little did they know, but their attorney filed bogus applications in their names. When the government discovered the bogus applications and their unlawful status, Juan and Cindy were put in deportation proceedings. Due to the attorney’s scam they ended up in the one place they were trying to avoid. They are one step from deportation and the destruction of their stable and loving family.
President Obama’s executive action will provide protection from deportation for thousands of parents of U.S. citizens like Juan and Cindy. However, the announcement provides ample opportunity for notarios who want to make a quick profit off the announcement. Below are some people to avoid when seeking legal assistance.
- Anyone who charges for paper forms. All immigration forms will be freely accessible on the United Citizenship and Immigration Services website. Avoid any websites that do not have a .gov domain name.
- Anyone who says you can apply for Deferred Action as a parent of a U.S. citizen now. The government will not begin accepting applications until May 2015.
- Anyone who refuses to provide verification that they are a registered attorney.
- Anyone who promises legal permanent status. The deferred action program is a temporary form of relief that provides protection from deportation and work permission for three years. It does not provide lawful permanent status or citizenship.
- Anyone who requires cash payment
DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. If you are in removal proceedings or need legal advice on your immigration case, please contact an immigration attorney.