…But what about all the US citizens these lawyers have ripped off through their work? Isn’t it entirely possible that they also used fraud to acquire legal status for some who didn’t deserve it?
One such alleged scammer is in Baltimore!
On Thursday the Federal government announced a major initiative to protect the poor and “vulnerable” immigrant from immigration lawyers who are conning them and ultimately leading some to deportation proceedings.
From the New York Times:
Immigration officials are teaming up with federal and state prosecutors, the Federal Trade Commission, lawyers’ groups and immigrant advocate organizations in a new nationwide effort to combat an epidemic of schemes by people posing as immigration lawyers.
The campaign, which will begin in Washington on Thursday, is an effort by the Obama administration to step up one form of assistance to immigrant communities, which have intensified their criticism of President Obama as they have faced a record pace of deportations in the last two years.
Officials say this is the first time a crackdown on fake immigration lawyers has been coordinated broadly among federal and state agencies and local immigrant aid organizations. Federal appeals courts in New York, California and other regions with major immigrant populations have been deluged with cases of immigrants who sought legal status through the courts, but ended up in labyrinths leading to deportation because of incompetent or fraudulent lawyers.
Since January of last year, the immigration agency has tested the program in pilots in New York, Los Angeles, San Antonio and four other cities.
The Associated Press* tells us that BALTIMORE is one of the seven target cities identified by federal authorities where immigration fraud is rampant!
The nationwide effort will focus initially on seven cities where the problem of immigration fraud has been particularly troublesome: Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Fresno, Calif., Los Angeles, New York, and San Antonio.
In fact, in conjunction with this same story I see the Feds have already nabbed one con-artist that had been operating in Baltimore for ten years. My first thought is which Baltimore City politicians knew about Loma International, and when did they know it!
From Fox 45 Baltimore:
Loma International operated for more than 10 years in downtown Baltimore, scamming on immigrants.
Federal agents cracked down on the scam artist who held out as a lawyer, targeting immigrants and offering to process paperwork so they could get their temporary protected status. Officials say, tens of thousands of dollars were involved.
A new coalition is cracking down on scams that prey on immigrants. Greg Collett says they are working to educate the community on immigration law.
[Update: See the Federal Trade Commission press release on Loma International.]
Prey on immigrants? What about all the cases this phony law firm did manage to process that may well have been fraudulent for other reasons—to the benefit of the illegal alien?
And, note that it is the TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS program that was involved. (See my post last week where I reported that the program itself is a scam! Readers, I have so much more material on TPS in Maryland and nationally that I will have to make a new category here entitled “Immigration fraud” to keep the information in one place as I post it.)
So why is this happening NOW? Why are the feds cracking down at this particular time?
Because immigration is a “divisive force” in American politics and it will be a major factor in the 2012 elections!
Those of us involved in the Maryland petition drive for a referendum to halt in-state tuition for illegal aliens have some idea of the answer! We don’t need to read Joshua Green in the Boston Globe or Adam Martin in the Atlantic Wire, we know from talking to people on the street that immigration is going to be a major issue in the 2012 elections.
Joshua Green writing in the Boston Globe:
….illegal immigration has become a central and divisive force in American politics, and could have major implications for the next election.
Adam Martin (discussing Green’s piece):
….immigration is gearing up to be a major issue in the 2012 elections.
In his column in the Boston Globe today. Joshua Green writes that, while immigration rarely takes the spotlight in Washington’s political debate, it “has become a central and divisive force in American politics, and could have major implications for the next election.” He points out that census data shows a fast-growing legal immigrant population, with the country set to become “majority-minority” by 2040.
….. Green points out that after the recent recession, “Whites are far more pessimistic about their prospects and their children’s prospects–and many mistakenly believe that illegal immigrants are the primary culprit.” And the lack of public conversation in Washington, he says, exacerbates that. “The aftershocks of the immigration debate, which was never really resolved, but still permeates how people look at the economy and the future of the country; and the bad economy… has made whites feel particularly pessimistic and sharpened these attitudes.”
It’s impossible to say definitively whether the federal crackdown on immigration abuses stems from some political savvy going on behind U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But if immigration does emerge as a major issue in the next round of elections, President Barack Obama will be glad to be able to show his agencies are up to speed in handling their enforcement duties.
As I said, it only takes talking to people on the street to know that immigration is a major issue for 2012, and if Obama thinks that cracking down on some con-artists preying on “vulnerable” immigrants is going to work in his favor, he is in dream land! It might satisfy the immigrants-are-victims lobby but nothing short of closing our borders completely will satisfy most citizen voters.
* This post was getting too long, but I encourage all serious students of this issue to visit the AP story linked here because there is much more behind this whole scheme involving the US Justice Department (maybe even our old buddy Tom Perez is lurking behind the scenes somewhere? Gee, come to think of it, I wonder if he knew the “lawyers” at Loma International when he was a Maryland immigration activist bigwig?)