Unscrupulous: adjective. Not honest or fair; doing things that are illegal, wrong, or dishonest (Merriam-Webster definition).
There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there, and you can find them in immigration as well.
There are immigration attorneys who charge insanely high prices for cases that have no legal merit. There are notarios who file forms and then disappear when the client gets put in deportation proceedings. There are attorneys who have lost their law license, but they still practice law.
Why do they do it? Probably because they feel like they can get away with it.
If someone is in the country without paperwork, are they going to be brave enough to report the malpractice or the unauthorized practice of law to the authorities? They should, but they likely won’t. This lack of accountability makes it all too easy for immigrants to be taken advantage of.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about those unscrupulous people who want to take advantage of immigrants.
I fear that when we get immigration reform, there will be lawyers and notarios who only want to make quick money. They will fill out forms or applications without even looking at whether the person is eligible.
I’m afraid that immigrants will be taken advantage of and not only lose their money but also the ability to stay in the United States if their applications aren’t filed correctly.
I’ve also thought about these unscrupulous people because clients tell me horror stories.
A woman today told me how the attorney she hired had actually lost his license, how she paid fees for his work and for the applications, yet he never filed anything. I heard from another client that they paid $300 on a website to get the forms necessary to file DACA (the forms are free on the USCIS website – the only thing that costs is the application when you file).
There are also countless stories of attorneys and notarios charging $10,000 or more for a case that most reputable attorneys would do for $5,000 or less if they would even take it at all.
When trusting someone with your immigration matters, be careful!
Do your research on their credentials and law license. You can look at client reviews online on websites such as AVVO. Listen to your gut, too. If you don’t think you could trust the attorney with your child or pet, you certainly shouldn’t trust them with your immigration status.
If you hire someone who does not have your interests at heart, you stand to lose much more than your money. Your entire future and your family’s future is placed in jeopardy. Doing it right the first time is vital because there may not be a second chance.