District Attorney George Gascón and Community Partners Launch an Immigration Fraud Public Education Campaign

October 15, 2013

Contact: Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167 or (415) 740-5134
ADA Alex Bastian, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1931

San Francisco – District Attorney George Gascón, was joined by representatives from Instituto Familiar de la Raza, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and CARECEN to launch an immigration fraud public education campaign. At Instituto Familiar de la Raza, a community based organization serving the Latino community for over 30 years, the District Attorney called on the community to be savvy consumers when choosing an immigration service provider.

“As immigration reform is debated in Washington, D.C., immigrant communities will become more susceptible to immigration fraud and scams,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “The best way to protect you and your family from being victimized is through prevention and education. Be a savvy consumer and beware of scammers who take all your money by overstating their ability to perform immigration work.”

The idea for a public education campaign came out of the District Attorney’s Latino Advisory Committee, a committee of stakeholders who advise the District Attorney on pressing issues in the Latino community. The committee identified immigration fraud as a major concern because most immigrants are reluctant to report crime which makes them more vulnerable to would be scammers.

“As the Latino community eagerly awaits immigration reform, it’s critical that we forge stronger partnerships among city and community based agencies to ensure that the immigrant community is not exploited in the process of seeking support for themselves and their families,” said Dr. Estela Reyes Garcia, Executive Director of Instituto Familiar de la Raza and member of the District Attorney’s Latino Advisory Committee. “Instituto Familiar de la Raza, is excited to be a part of this public safety effort to improve the quality of life of all community members.”

The multilingual campaign in English, Spanish and Chinese will educate immigrant communities how to ensure the immigration consultant or immigration attorney they have chosen is licensed or bonded. The campaign warns the immigrant community of scammers who say they have influence with government officials, claim they can place someone in front of the line of immigration reform, or promise work permits or U.S. visas right away.

“Unscrupulous individuals prey on immigrant communities who want nothing more than a legal means to stay in the United States,” said Erin Quinn, Staff Attorney at Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “Preying on their hopes and fears, untrustworthy service providers make false promises, and rob immigrants of thousands of dollars, knowing that they are unlikely to come forward and report the crime.”

The District Attorney is encouraging community members call his office’s multilingual hotline at (415) 551-9595 for any questions. All calls are confidential and immigration will never be contacted. Public education events. The public education campaign will continue with a second event in the Latino community and a third event in the Chinese community.