Local News

Immigration reform could spawn scams

Posted November 24, 2014 4:20 p.m. EST
Updated November 24, 2014 5:50 p.m. EST

— Mexican nationals crowded into the consulate in Raleigh on Monday, seeking information on the immigration reforms proposed last week by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Obama has laid out plans to allow millions of undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. provisionally so deportation efforts can focus on convicted criminals and those who pose security threats. The proposal also would crack down on businesses that hire people who are in the country illegally and would provide more visas to foreign-born entrepreneurs and college graduates in high-tech fields.

Observers say the provisional status would affect about 5 million people in the U.S. illegally, and Javier Diaz, Mexico's consul general in Raleigh, estimates that about 80 percent of those people are from Mexico.

Diaz said his staff is warning people that Obama's changes won't take effect for months, so they should be wary of people offering to file documents now, for a fee, to move them "to the front of the line."

"We know this sort of thing happens, especially now since this announcement was made so public. It is creating so much expectation and so many dreams among so many families all over the United States," he said.

People should seek help only from the consulate, licensed immigration lawyers, known community organizations or the U.S. government, he said.

"Be optimistic, but keep informed about what this means exactly," he said. "This is the time to get people informed correctly about what this is and also about what it isn’t, because this generates a lot of confusion sometimes."

Immigration lawyers such as Jenny Doyle say they are still gathering as much information on Obama's plans and are following as regulations are developed to provide the most up-to-date information possible.

"This new policy is still being ironed out and the details are still being ironed out," Doyle said, and the uncertainty crates an opening for scams.

"Where there are opportunities, there are always people ready to take advantage of those opportunities," she said.