Trump’s immigration policies are making it easier for desperate immigrants fall for fraud schemes
The Trump administration’s tightening grip on immigration pipelines has increased the desperation of undocumented immigrants, and as desperation often does, this has led to increased vulnerability to exploitation. According to BuzzFeed News, immigrants are becoming particularly susceptible to a common type of fraud referred to as “the 10-year law.”
As part of this scheme, fraudsters tell immigrants that if they have lived in America for 10 years consecutively and have children who are American citizens, they can help them become a lawful permanent resident and get a green card. But the fraudsters are actually filing immigrants for asylum, which requires they prove they were under persecution in their home countries before coming to America.
This means lawyers are misrepresenting what they can and are going to do for their clients, such as Edith Duran, who is now facing deportation when Leonard and Thomas T. Hecht’s legal maneuvers backfired.
In fact, 33 of their former clients are alleging in a federal civil suit that the men used their positions as trusted experts in the field of law to “take advantage of Plaintiffs’ inexperience, lack of legal expertise, limited formal education, and limited ability to read English to financially profit.”
In response to the lawsuit, lawyers for the Hechts sent an email to BuzzFeed News defending themselves. “The drastically narrowed Amended Complaint was filed in response to the Hechts’ original motion to dismiss which laid out the fallaciousness of the plaintiffs’ allegations,” it read. “In response to the Hechts’ motion, the plaintiffs were forced to jettison entire swaths of their original complaint. The Hechts look forward to the dismissal of the entire Amended Complaint based on a renewed motion to dismiss which will be filed in the coming weeks”
Immigration court often flows swiftly, in some cases getting through as many as 15 cases in 30 minutes. Understandably, this creates a difficult environment for those sitting in the courts with their lives on the line. Vanessa Stine, staff attorney with Friends of Farmworkers, an organization which represents clients who are victims of immigration fraud, told BuzzFeed hearings feel like an “administrative process as opposed to understanding that they could be removed… (Immigration court is) kind of chaotic, it’s fast, it’s hard to hear. There’s babies crying. There’s lawyers looking for their clients. There’s a lot happening. It’s kind of like the DMV.”
Adding to this chaotic environment is the fact that judges have recently been instructed by the Trump administration to speed up this process even more, which could likely lead to more deportations judges increasingly become enforcers of immigration policy.