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  1. #1
    Senior Member lsmith1338's Avatar
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    More illegals getting scammed in pursuit of green cards

    http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/ ... -apnewyork

    More illegal immigrants getting scammed in pursuit of green cards
    By COLLEEN LONG
    Associated Press Writer

    November 5, 2006, 12:07 PM EST


    NEW YORK -- A Barbados woman desperate to obtain legal status in the U.S. heard that she could get a green card through a church in Brooklyn. She needed $1,200, more than triple her life savings.

    The woman emptied her bank account, borrowed from family members and joined the "church," whose services were held in the living room of a private home by a disheveled woman who called herself the church leader. She attended Sunday service and Saturday Bible study, because the church leader said it was necessary; immigration officials would be watching, the church leader warned.

    After six months, she started to get suspicious. She'd been paying installments, borrowing more and more money, and she hadn't received a Social Security Number, or even a work permit. She was told the cost of the green card had gone up. She eventually gave up on the church, but by then, the damage was done.

    When she went to interview with federal immigration officials for residency after she got married, she was told she had committed fraud. Government agents had been tracking her pursuit of a green card for some time.

    "They had forms with my signature that they said proved I had willingly committed fraud. The truth is I had no idea. They said I could be deported," she recounted to Wendy Rutherford of the Community Action Project in Brooklyn.

    Her story is one of countless examples of undocumented immigrants duped into giving money to scammers in exchange for coveted residency documents. It is a crime that goes largely unreported, despite laws in place to protect fraud victims, because victims are too skittish to report.

    "It's hard for people to tell their story, because they are afraid. They don't trust the government, they don't want to jeopardize their status, and they don't want to be deported," said Rutherford, who spent nearly a year compiling anecdotes for the Community Action Project, a federation of churches and community organizations based in Brooklyn that advocates for immigrant rights.

    There are about 3.4 million foreign-born residents in New York City, and an additional 500,000 undocumented immigrants, according to city figures. And an unknown number of false attorneys and fake "immigration consultants" have sprung up.

    The Associated Press made several attempts to reach several victims, but they feared would be deported if they spoke.

    The environment is ripe for this sort of crime; immigration laws are in flux and many are confused about what the rules are. President Bush last week signed a bill that approves partitioning 700 miles of the U.S. from Mexico. But the House and Senate could not reconcile their differences on a host of immigration issues in their separate bills.

    The confusion means that rumors _ and fears _ are spreading.

    "There is a lot of bad information out there," said the Rev. Ronald Marino, who heads the Catholic Migration Office in New York. "There's going to be amnesty next year and you have to register for it, and you need to pay a fee, or everyone is being deported if you don't have documents; the rumor mill is working overtime these days."

    Marino said many people will come to the church to recount their problems, because in their homeland, the church is a place they can trust, unlike the government.

    But state and federal officials say victims of fraud can report the crime anonymously.

    "We don't ask people's status when they come to the office," said Jose Perez, deputy chief of the state's consumer fraud bureau. "It's not our job."

    State and city laws that took effect in 2004 tighten restrictions on companies claiming to be immigration assistance offices. Now, companies must post a notice saying they are not attorneys, are not allowed to give legal advice, and provide a written contract that itemizes all services. Fines for violations are steep: A first offense is a maximum of $2,500, and every offense after that is $5,000 minimum.

    Perez said his office is conducive to reporting such crimes. Many of the staff are bilingual, and fliers and informational sheets are available.

    City officials claim the same open environment. Within New York City, fraud victims can call 311, which is translated into 170 languages.

    Officials say the laws are working, and there are arrests to back up their claims. In the past four months, at least five people have been arrested on fraud charges, the most recent was Jimmie Ortega, an ex-U.S. immigration supervisor, accused of being the central player in a scheme that awarded at least 60 phony citizenships in return for bribes of between $1,500 and $4,000.

    But Johnny Kline of Community Action Project said that isn't enough.

    He wants to see more neighborhood canvassing to get correct information out, along with signs on public transportation.

    Regardless, he says, the crimes are only going to get worse as the immigration debate rages and more people fear deportation. Most agree the key is comprehensive immigration reform, but no one has a solution on what the reform should be.

    "It's a problem that will keep coming up until we figure out what is going on with immigration in this country," Kline said.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Dixie's Avatar
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    Why was this woman trying to do something outside of the immigration office? Either she is that stupid and there is really no helping those people or she was trying to bypass the system because she doesn't qualify. The consequences of bad decisions is the undesirable outcome. Can't save people from themselves. Pity only cost you and it really doesnít teach them the lessons they need to learn either. Iím not into paying for the mistakes of others.

    This is another whine!

    Actually, there is some irony in this story. Since she may have been trying to scam our system, she got scammed. Now that's justice.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member lsmith1338's Avatar
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    My thoughts exactly Dixie, she got what she deserved for trying to get a green card illegally.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member loservillelabor's Avatar
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    But Johnny Kline of Community Action Project said that isn't enough.

    He wants to see more neighborhood canvassing to get correct information out, along with signs on public transportation.

    Regardless, he says, the crimes are only going to get worse as the immigration debate rages and more people fear deportation. Most agree the key is comprehensive immigration reform, but no one has a solution on what the reform should be.

    "It's a problem that will keep coming up until we figure out what is going on with immigration in this country," Kline said.
    Here's part of the problem. They're lied to by even those claiming to be advocates. Most in America agree that comprehensive immigration reform aka amnesty is not the answer.

    Then:

    Marino said many people will come to the church to recount their problems, because in their homeland, the church is a place they can trust, unlike the government.
    They are not in their homeland. They should go home to the church.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    The fact that she was already in the United States and "desperately needed a green card" should have been her first clue that she was here illegally and needed to return to Barbados.

    What's wrong with Barbados any hoo that she "desperately needed a green card" to remain the US instead of return home to Barbados?

    I think she is a scammer that got scammed and that's just poetic justice.

    Deport her!!

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  6. #6
    Senior Member CountFloyd's Avatar
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    A Barbados woman desperate to obtain legal status in the U.S. heard that she could get a green card through a church in Brooklyn. She needed $1,200, more than triple her life savings.
    Just what we need more of in this country; broke, stupid people.
    It's like hell vomited and the Bush administration appeared.

  7. #7
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    Being here illegally and the word scammed does not go together.

    What are we supposed to do, feel sorry for these law breakers?

  8. #8
    Senior Member dman1200's Avatar
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    All I have to say is that this criminal got what she deserved.

    "They had forms with my signature that they said proved I had willingly committed fraud. The truth is I had no idea. They said I could be deported," she recounted to Wendy Rutherford of the Community Action Project in Brooklyn.
    You should be deported, but hey I'm sure there's room for you in that podunk church Elvira and her son hang out in. Had no idea my arse.
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  9. #9
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    Kind of like a burglar getting cut while climbing threw the window he just broke.
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