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Brooklyn Attorney General Announces Formation of New Immigrant Fraud Bureau

In the two decades that I’ve worked as a lawyer in the New York Chinese community, I’ve encountered an astonishingly high number of cases of immigrants being taken advantage of by fraudulent immigration services, scam artists, and even other attorneys. Scams directed at recent immigrants are common because of many immigrants’ unfamiliarity with the language, laws, and rights provided to them in their new home.The good news for immigrants living in Brooklyn is that District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has just announced the formation of an Immigrant Fraud Bureau to protect their rights. The unit will prosecute unlicensed attorneys attempting to take on clients from the immigrant community, as well as the perpetrators of housing and investment scams.”Immigrants, especially those without documentation, are especially vulnerable to fraud, particularly in the areas of employment, housing and the procurement of proper immigration documents. Our Immigrant Fraud Unit will serve to open a channel of communication to victims of crime who might not otherwise feel that they have a voice,” said District Attorney Thompson. He’s enlisted Assistant District Attorney Maritza Mejia-Ming, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic herself, to serve as chief of the new unit.The Brooklyn Immigrant Fraud Bureau joins the ranks of other programs designed to protect immigrants in New York, like Manhattan’s Immigrant Affairs Program, which was formed in 2007 to provide aid to the victims of fraudulent attorneys, ICE agents, and immigration services. Hopefully with more programs like this we can see a decrease in cases of immigrant victimization in New York, and help ensure a more hospitable home and workplace for our city’s newest residents.New York Law Journal, “Immigration Fraud Bureau Created in Brooklyn,” 10 April 2014.The New York County District Attorney’s Office, “Immigrant Affairs Program.”