Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Two recent successful cases against false immigration providers

And now for some good news.....The New York Times and the St. Petersburg Times reported two separate indidents of penalties and [prison sentences imposed on people who provided fraudulent immigration services to foreign nationals.

The NYT article describes how Miriam Mercedes Hernandez was ordered to pay $3 million in fines and restitution to her victims. Ms. Hernandez charged her victim up to $15,000 per person to help them get permanent residence or citizenship within eight month but never performed the services she claimed.

As the article states
Immigration fraud, often orchestrated by immigrants, has proliferated across the country, victimizing people desperate to gain legal residency or citizenship. Law enforcement officials say such schemes are particularly difficult to uncover and prosecute because many victims are in the country illegally and are hesitant to seek help from the authorities for fear of deportation.

Under state and federal law, only lawyers or representatives accredited by the Justice Department can represent people before the immigration authorities. Anyone providing immigration services must also comply with strict rules governing contracts and advertising. 
The St. Petersburg Times article describes a Clearwater woman who was ordered to 5 years in prison for filing false asylum claims.  She was also ordered to forfeit $800,000 in profits. The defendant filed 274 asylum applications with false allegations of persecution.

See this prior blog posting about "fake "immigration lawyers."