A.G. Schneiderman Issues Alert On Potential DACA Scams

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 3, 2017

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ISSUES ALERT ON POTENTIAL DACA SCAMS 

New York State Is Home To 42,000 DACA Grantees 

DACA Grantees Must Apply For Renewal By Oct 5 

All New Yorkers Can Report Potential Scams To The Attorney General's Immigration Fraud Hotline At 1-866-390-2992

NEW YORK–With the October 5 deadline for renewal applications approaching, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued an alert today urging Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grantees to protect themselves from scammers seeking to capitalize on the uncertainty created by President Trump’s decision to rescind the program. Scammers could seek to take advantage of DACA grantees and their family, friends, and colleagues by misrepresenting the status of DACA or other immigration policies and offering fraudulent services. Last month, Attorney General Schneiderman led a coalition of state Attorneys General in filing suit to protect DACA.

"Scammers will often capitalize on fear and anxiety to take advantage of immigrants and their families,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “DREAMers play by the rules, work hard, and pay taxes. For most, America is the only home they’ve ever known, and they deserve to stay here and keep contributing to our state and our nation. 

“While I continue to defend DACA in court, I encourage all grantees to be vigilant and protect themselves from those seeking to take advantage of this uncertainty to make a quick buck.”

If you think you've been the victim of an immigration services fraud scam, contact the Attorney General's Immigration Fraud Hotline at 1-866-390-2992 or civil.rights@ag.ny.gov. The Attorney General’s office will never inquire about your immigration status or share your information with anyone, including other government entities.

Before hiring an immigration service providers or submitting any paperwork to USCIS, DACA recipients should know that:

  • The Department of Homeland Security will no longer accept new DACA applications
  • DACA grantees with work permits expiring between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 can apply for a renewal. Currently, all renewal applications must be submitted to DHS no later than October 5, 2017.
  • DACA grantees can no longer apply for advanced parole.
  • Individuals with deportation orders should seek legal advice from either a lawyer or an accredited representative as soon as possible.

To protect individuals from potential frauds, Attorney General Schneiderman issued the following tips:

  • Beware of offers via social media, phone calls, flyers or other forms of unsolicited DACA/immigration legal advices services.
  • Beware of phishing. Some scammers use websites that look like government or official institutions. 
  • Never pay a fee for an expedited application. Individuals cannot expedite your request in exchange for money.
  • No one can guarantee you will get special treatment for deferred action. If someone makes such a guarantee, do not employ his or her services.
  • Only attorneys or Office of Legal Access Programs (OLAP) accredited representatives can give you advice on which forms to submit for each application.
  • Only you, an attorney, or OLAP accredited representative can represent you before USCIS and inquire about the status of your request.
  • An immigration service provider that does not employ attorneys may not give you legal advice, threaten to report you to immigration authorities, promise to obtain special favors from immigration authorities, instruct you to provide false information to immigration authorities, or charge you for a referral to someone qualified to assist you with  immigration matters.
  • Although Notarios Publico are attorneys in Spanish-speaking countries, Notaries Public in the United States are not attorneys. Do not hire them for legal advice.
  • Remember, before you sign any immigration form, you must understand it and agree to the truth of it. If a form is not written in your language, and you don't understand it, do not sign it. Anything you sign that is not true and accurate may be considered fraudulent by USCIS, and this will have serious repercussions.
  • If you do go to an immigration service provider to have your paperwork filled out, the provider must do the following: give you a contract (which may be cancelled at any time) written in English and in a language you understand describing the services they will provide and the fees they will charge, post signs clearly indicating they are not attorneys and cannot give you legal advice, give you a copy of any documents filed with the government, return any original documents belonging to you, and give you a copy of your file on demand without a fee.
  • It's always safest to pay for any service you obtain by money order, check, or credit card. Do not pay with cash. Note, too, that USCIS filing fees must be paid by those methods.

For more information on the USCIS deferred action policy, including guidelines and forms, please visit: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis.

To find a licensed attorney in the State of New York, visit the New York State Bar Association www.nysba.org or the American Immigration Lawyers Association: www.aila.org.

“The 30,000 Dreamers in this city are New Yorkers through and through, and they're essential to our families, our communities, our schools and our economy,” said Acting Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Bitta Mostofi. “As we continue to fight for passage of the DREAM Act, it's critical for DACA recipients to have access to quality legal support in this time of uncertainty. Attempting to scam or defraud young people who only want to remain in their homes is unconscionable, and we are pleased that Attorney General Schneiderman is calling attention to this issue. Free, confidential immigrant legal help is available for all City residents by calling 311 and asking for ActionNYC.”

“Together with Immigrant ARC, our network of over 60 statewide legal services providers, the New York Immigration Coalition is working around the clock to make sure that DACAmented New Yorkers get the help they need. We're especially grateful to the Attorney General for staying vigilant against people who would try to profit off of other people's pain. This is our New York, and everyone is entitled to the basic protection of the rule of law,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

“AG Schneiderman has consistently been a champion for immigrants in New York State, and we at Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights commend him for taking the lead in protecting immigrants from scams that rob them both of their money and their dreams,” said Angela Fernandez, Esq, Executive Director and Supervising Attorney of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrants Rights.

“Due to the revocation of DACA and the extremely short timeline the Trump Administration set forth to renew applications, we have seen DACA beneficiaries seek out legal advice and services with an extraordinary sense of urgency. Under these circumstances, it is inevitable that unscrupulous individuals will attempt to offer fraudulent legal services and take advantage of the desperation of our immigrant youth and their families. We're grateful that the Office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman continues to vigorously go after these scam artists and ensure that those that prey on our community are brought to justice,” said Jose Calderon, President of Hispanic Federation.