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Immigrants warned of increase in scams

The Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — Advocacy groups barely waited for President Obama to finish speaking about wide-ranging changes to the American immigration system to start warning about scams.

“We hear horror stories about people getting taken advantage of horribly,” attorney Ginger Jacobs told several dozen people who watched the president’s speech at Alliance San Diego offices.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Mexican consulates sounded similar alarms after Obama promised executive action that is expected to shield about 5 million people from deportation. For decades, immigrants have fallen victim to attorneys and consultants who disappear with their money or give bad advice that may land them in deportation proceedings.

“Anything related to immigration tends to have this activity associated with it,” said Laura Vazquez, senior immigration legislative analyst at National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy group. “There are people who really want to get right with the law and seek any opportunity to adjust their status. They’ll sometimes believe things that aren’t true.”

Harris, whose state is home to an estimated 2.4 million people who immigrated to the United States illegally, issued a lengthy “consumer alert” Tuesday, saying changes of the magnitude Obama announced often invite con artists. Her tips include making sure that attorneys are licensed and advisers are recognized by the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals.


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