I am alarmed. Increasingly, I have been seeing immigration fraud in our ethnic communities. Immigration fraud occurs when someone in your community, usully the same race as you, purports to help you, but instead hurts you by claiming to know how to file immigration paperwork. Sometimes, these ‘notarios’ or community helpers actually file the paperwork, but they file it incorrectly. Other times, the notarios take your money and file nothing on your behalf. When I hear about these cases, I am truly disgusted and dismayed. Your own people preying on you for the mere reason that you are of the same culture and race, and therefore, there is a supposed built-in trust, that the ‘notario’ takes advantage of.
Another shocking thing is that these criminals charge a lot of money – even more than lawyers do, sometimes. Recently, a poor Hispanic woman came to my office and told me her story about someone ripping her off, ‘what can you do to help?’, she asked. I gave her tissues to wipe her tears and got up to give her a hug. I told her we could help her find the right detective to speak to for the fraud and that if she needed someone from our office to translate the conversation, we would. This woman told us that she spent too many hours working only just to be robbed of almost $5000 for immigration paperwork she doesn’t even know what happened to. And even though she was undocumented, she would file a police complaint.
President Obama’s proposed deferred action programs (DAPA and expanded DACA) have brought the predators out – those who know they can take advantage of people’s hope and desperation. But please, please beware of these notarios AND DO NOT USE THEM! Even the USCIS website warns against using these community notarios. Immigration law is complex, and it is not about just filling out a form. It involves an analysis of each person’s individual case and circumstances.
If you believe you have been deceived by a notario or someone not licensed giving you advice about your immigration process, please contact my office so we can get you in touch with the right law enforcement in the area to assist you. Gardner & Mendoza is here to help and point those who have been harmed in the right direction.
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