Rep Meng warns of immigrant frauds

Updated: 2015-01-19 09:49

By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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In light of President Barack Obama's recent executive action on immigration, undocumented immigrants have to be careful of potential scams promising easier application processes, said New York Congresswoman Grace Meng.

Meng, who represents New York's sixth district, said on Jan 16 that undocumented immigrants need to be aware of dishonest lawyers, immigration consultants and fake attorneys who charge large sums of money to prepare and submit applications. The application period for the president's program has not yet begun and fees and forms have not been made available to the public yet.

"We just want to warn people that they should not be paying hefty sums of money right now for a form that doesn't even exist yet. No one has any special or secret knowledge right now," said Meng during a press conference at her office in Queens. That's what some people have been told, according to Meng, to pay so-called experts money and then they will be able to get them to the front of the line.

"We just want for everyone to be careful," said Meng, a Chinese-American congresswoman and the first Asian-American to be elected to Congress from New York.

On Nov 20, Obama ordered two executive actions on immigration. One program, the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), will allow parents of US citizens and green card holders to apply for work permits if they entered the country before Jan 1, 2010.

The second is expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, which allows any child brought to the US before their 16th birthday and prior to Jan 1, 2010, to request consideration of deferred removal action for a period of time.

"The executive action taken by the president is good for our country," said Meng in a statement released prior to the press conference. "It was the only real progress we've been able to make on immigration in the past two years."

The Congresswoman's office warned that the scams are affecting groups all around the country, including those from Chinese, Korean, South Asian and Latino immigrant communities.

"Most undocumented immigrants are hardworking people who want nothing more than a chance to work, live and contribute to our nation," Meng said. "Not only do these scammers steal their savings and hard-earned money, they rob them of their chance to finally come out of the shadows, and have a shot at the American dream. It's unconscionable, and immigrants must make sure that they don't fall prey to these despicable schemes."

Meng will be sponsoring a forum in February to help the public understand how to apply to the two immigration programs and to learn the qualifications required for both. The forum will be held in Queens, the New York borough with the city's biggest population of immigrants.

Last year, census data from New York's Department of City Planning showed that Queens saw the arrival of more than 75,000 new foreign-born immigrants in the past three years, with the Chinese making up the biggest percentage of newcomers at 13 percent. Flushing is home to the largest population of Chinese immigrants in New York City.