Immigration lawyers are seeing a rise in clients duped by immigration “consultants” who claim to be legal experts.
With President Trump’s harsh immigration policies striking fear among the undocumented, many are rushing to get legal advice from not so legal scammers.
These scammers present themselves as legal consultants and charge up-front fees of up to $10,000 and higher. They use false advertising and illegal contracts to prey on the vulnerable immigrant community.
Not a new scam
Unfortunately, this has been going on for years. These so called legal experts capitalize on the fact that in many Latin American countries, such consultants are considered actual attorneys – which is not the case here in the U.S.
In some cases, these consultants can damage an undocumented immigrants case beyond repair. Most often, they work out of offices where tax services are offered.
American Bar Association steps in
The American Bar Association has recently launched an initiative to target these unethical consultants. They’re working on a way to report the unauthorized practice of law and report them to the bar association.
It’s a challenging fight for the ABA who says that most fraud is identified after the fact, when it’s too late for the victim. The consequences for the undocumented victim can range from being denied temporary protective status to being issued a removal order.
The ABA wants actual attorneys to understand what actions can be taken against these so called consultants to hold them accountable and reduce future occurrences.
Pasadena attorney, Romben Aquino, stresses the importance of due diligence. He says:
Every attorney has a license number and you can also look someone up online to see if any disciplinary actions have been taken against them. You can Google someone’s name and you can also look on Yelp because sometimes people who have been burned will write about it.”