Immigrants falling victim to scams in wake of Trump’s executive order

Marc FilippinoReboot Illinois

Feb 03, 2017

Scammers are capitalizing on immigrants who are fearing the fallout of President Trump’s executive order banning refugees, according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

In a press release sent out Friday, Madigan warned that scammers are calling immigrant households and offering fake legal advice. Other swindlers are pretending to be government or law enforcement officials demanding payments and threatening deportation.

In January, the Trump administration enacted an executive order pausing all refugee arrivals for the next four months. The plan also halts entry from seven Muslim-majority countries on any visa category. Trump said the measures are meant to stop terrorists from entering the country.

The announcement led to a lot of uncertainty. Lawyers lined up at international airports to offer legal advice to anyone who was detained while traveling from outside the country. Now, Madigan said, “unscrupulous” people are capitalizing on immigrants worrying over deportation.

“Unfortunately there is a lot of fear and confusion about the recently issued Executive Orders and how they change our country’s immigration policies. Many people are seeking assistance with their immigration status and travel plans,” Madigan said. “It is critical to find honest and legitimate assistance and know the warning signs of immigration fraud. I encourage people to contact my office if you encounter a solicitation that seems questionable or if you have already been the victim of fraud. My office does not ask for immigration status.”

Madigan said to thoroughly research anyone offering legal advice before agreeing to pay. Any legitimate lawyer will be registered with the Attorney General’s Office unless they are a licensed attorney or a nonprofit organization recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals.

If you’re unsure if a phone call from someone offering legal advice is legitimate, demand contracts have a three-day right to cancel stipulation and make sure all documents are in your possession.

Madigan notes the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will never ask for payment over the phone.

These are not the first reports of immigrants being targeted by con artists. Madigan’s office sent out a similar release in 2014 after then President Obama announced an immigration policy offering temporary legal status to millions of illegal immigrants. At the time, Madigan also warned of swindlers masking themselves as legal service experts who demanded excessive upfront fees.

To learn more about the Immigration Executive Order, Madigan suggests visiting the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the National Immigration Center or the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

Or to file a complaint against an immigration services provider visit Madigan’s website, or contact her office at 1-800-386-5438 (1-866-310-8398 for the Spanish hotline).

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