Only a few hours have passed since the bill of the Biden Administration, which aims to legalize some 11 million undocumented people, and although the initiative has not even begun its process in Congress, a fear that always haunts the environment is that the anxiety and emotion that the proposal generates among immigrants from New York, be breeding ground for the revivals to take advantage of and cheat the most unwary.
There are countless stories of scammers who have played with the illusions of naive New Yorkers, who have bled their pockets with false promises to help them legalize, so leaders, activists, lawyers and immigrants who have been deceived with false paperwork , ask to be alert to peventual fraud attempts.
That is the case of Colombian Luis Hernández, who has been undocumented in the Big Apple for 12 years, and who confesses that when he sees that Biden’s bill, called “America’s Citizenship Act of 2021” was introduced on Thursday, he felt joy, but at the same time he recalled that “along with the good intentions of some, there are always others alive” who seek to take advantage of the despair and illusions of others.
“To me, false lawyers and notaries, and others who say that they are legal assistants and in the end they are nothing, they have robbed me in this country since I arrived, at least 25,000 dollars, telling me that they were going to help me by filling out papers to legalize my status, when nothing could be done. So now that this project is here, we have to keep our eyes wide open to prevent these exploited people from doing their thing, “said the father of the family, warning that he does not want the same thing to happen to other immigrants, so he launches a piece of advice.
“We cannot get carried away by the desire for something that we hear and that is still a simple project, so we have to stay informed and attached to community organizations that help us without giving money,” said the immigrant.
The Queens Assemblywoman also joined the wake-up call, Catalina Cruz, who stated that it is important to understand that if at this moment there are people asking for money with promises to offer help based on the Biden bill, it is obviously a fraud.
“The legislation was hardly introduced. They have not even begun to debate or have gone to a committee. That is why I tell our people that no one should be paying money to absolutely anyone to apply for that law, because it is not yet law. It does not exist as such and we must be careful not to fall into the hands of scammers ”, said the Corona and Jackson Heights political leader.
The assemblywoman warned that if anyone hears of any type of fraud attempt, report it to the New York State Attorney’s Office or the City’s Consumer Department.
“We hope that this law is finally passed and when that happens, at that time we must contact serious lawyers who help our people, but for now no one should put their money to waste and the City and the State must make sure we have the necessary funds. so that when the law is approved we can help with more legal services ”, said Cruz, calling for a campaign to warn New Yorkers and prevent fraud.
Harold Solis, organization attorney Make the Road NY, He explained that Biden’s immigration reform plan is only a proposal for now, and although he stressed that it is a light on the way, he asked undocumented immigrants to be cautious.
“We must all feel that this is a good step, especially after the last thing we saw in the last 4 years with Trump, but we have to be super clear not to fall into the hands of people who want to harm our community. This law has not yet passed through Congress, they have not voted, it was just introduced in the Chamber and this bill is still a long way from becoming law, “said the defender, mentioning that there are other actions that must be taken now, before processing applications that do not yet exist. “What we do have to do is get in touch with the political leaders of the community, letting them know that we need changes now and join the organizations, because we have to keep up the pressure because if not, we will end up as before, if nothing else.”
Solís added: “If someone offers to help them process papers now, with Biden’s law, they are lying. You have to be careful. What they can do if they have questions and want advice is call the Office of New Americans, call Action NYC 311 and stay away from scammers, because they are going to end up paying for something that doesn’t exist yet ”.
Yaritza Mendez, Associate director of community organizing at Make the Road New York, stressed that a key from now on will be to stay well informed on the subject to avoid falling into the hands of unscrupulous people.
“There is currently no application, there is no waiting list, and the requirements have not yet been set. It is crucial that our community is informed with the most up-to-date information and if you have any questions, you should approach community organizations or you can call 311 to make an appointment with ActionNYC “said the activist. “The introduction of the Citizenship Act 2021 is a great step that will help bring justice to our communities. It is important to remember that we still have a lot of work to do to get this proposal into law. First, the proposal has to pass both houses in Congress and President Biden will have to sign this act. “
Alejandra Lopez, of the organization Legal Aid Society, joined the recommendation to be well informed and recalled that there is free help available on immigration matters in New York City.
“For help with an immigration matter, either for deportation defense or for help with an affirmative immigration benefit (citizenship, green cards, family petitions, etc.), with public charge concerns, or for For help with advance planning for citizen parents, please call our Helpline at the Immigration Law Unit: 844-955-3425. Interpreters are available for all languages, ”López said.
Also, the Mayor’s Office of Immigration Affairs, He cautioned that to avoid fraud, it is important for New York immigrants to know that there has not yet been any change in the law and that they are ready to report any attempted fraud.
“As we celebrate the introduction of the US Citizenship Act, we also urge New Yorkers to beware of scams. There has been no change in the law yet, which means there is no new visa or application to complete, ”he said. Commissioner Bitta Mostofi. “To connect with safe, free, and City-funded immigration legal help, New Yorkers can call ActionNYC at 1-800-354-0365, Monday through Friday from 9 am to 6 pm To report immigration fraud, call to the direct line of the New York State Office for New Americans at 1-800-566-7636 ”.
Raluca Oncioiu, from the Catholic Charities organization, mentioned that although comprehensive immigration reform is of vital importance to the country, there is a long way to go before the bill becomes law, which is why he asked to walk on lead.
“We encourage anyone with questions about the bill or any other changes introduced by the Biden Administration to call the New Americans hotline at 800-566-7636, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 8 am. p.m. It is the only state-funded state hotline in the nation and a great resource for immigrants who have questions about the changes made by the Biden Administration, ”said the a lawyer. “Hotline staff can also make referrals to free legal service providers with whom non-citizens can discuss their legal options. If you have questions about your legal options, talk to a free legal service provider, not a notary, tax preparer, or travel agent. “
Jose Gonzalez, An immigrant of Mexican origin, who lives on Roosevelt Avenue, in Queens, declared himself excited about Biden’s proposal to legalize the undocumented, but asked the City to offer a constant report on the status of that law so that workers like him, don’t end up being a victim of revivals.
“The only program that I see every day is the mayor’s conference, I don’t see any more, so it would be good if they talked about this issue there so that our people know what is happening and not rob us. And if they could translate that into Spanish, it would be better for those who can’t speak English, ”said the father of the family.
Where to call to clarify doubts and ask for help?
- Legal Aid Society Immigration Law Unit Helpline: (844) 955-3425. Interpreters are available for all languages. The helpline operates Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm
- You can call Make the Road NY at 718 4187690 or connect to their page on Facebook, which offers ongoing virtual workshops.
- You can call ActionNYC at 1 (800) 354-0365, Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
- To report immigration fraud, you can call the state Office for New Americans at 1 (800) 566-7636
- You can also call the New York State Attorney’s Office at (800) 771-7755
Tips to Avoid Being a Victim of Immigration Fraud
- Remember that notaries are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice
- There is still no amnesty
- The Biden administration is proposing changes to immigration law, but these are only proposals and not laws
- No one can apply for lawful permanent residence under the Biden bill yet
- You cannot apply for lawful permanent residence at this time, just because you have been in the United States.
- United for a long time
- If you apply for employment authorization or lawful permanent residence when you do not qualify, the Department of Homeland Security can initiate removal proceedings against you.
- Only go to lawyers or accredited representatives if you have questions about immigration
- Lawyers must be licensed to practice law. Ask to see your license
- Legal representatives must be accredited and work for an agency recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals – ask to see their accreditation documents
- Never sign an application with false information
- Never sign a blank form
- Request copies of everything you sign
- Get a second opinion before filing an immigration application, especially if the advice seems too good to be true
- Stay informed about the progress of the immigration reform bill
- Know that although there is hope that Congress will pass immigration reform, at this time the laws have not changed yet
- Call 311 and ask for information on organizations that offer free immigration counseling services if you have questions
- Do not give money to anyone who promises to help you process your residence under the Biden project, because it is just an initiative and you would be the victim of deception
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.