Watch this slide show of the event.
Catholic Charities Executive Director Monsignor Kevin Sullivan joined New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and others to showcase a comprehensive initiative launched by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to protect immigrants from fraud and exploitation on September 18, 2014 at the headquarters of Catholic Charities’ Division of Immigration and Refugee Services in Lower Manhattan.
Con artists posing as immigration attorneys or authorized immigration representatives victimize thousands of New Yorkers in our state each year by charging fees for immigration assistance services that are never provided. Commonly recognized forms of immigration scams include: false promises of permanent U.S. residency and citizenship; preparation of applications for immigration benefits by unqualified individuals or those engaged in the unauthorized practice of law; sale of immigration forms that are available for free; false impersonation of immigration officials; and unwarranted threats of deportation. At times, victims are so negatively impacted by these scammers that they permanently lose out on important immigration opportunities.
Governor Cuomo recently signed legislation to better protect immigrants living in New York from potential fraud or wrongdoing as they seek immigration-related assistance.
This comprehensive effort to fight immigrant fraud includes:
- Launching a multilingual public service campaign warning immigrants against fraud
- Signing legislation making it a felony to commit immigrant assistance services fraud
- Expanding the New York State New Americans Hotline (800-566-7636) operated by Catholic Charities to serve as a resource to coordinate immigration assistance fraud complaints, as well as offer service referrals
- Helping local immigrant-serving not-for-profit agencies become federally accredited to provide certain immigration services by expanding free immigration law training
- Strengthening enforcement against the unauthorized practice of immigration law by enhancing coordination between the Attorney General, District Attorneys’ offices, local government consumer affairs departments and federal agencies through complaint referrals
“Catholic Charities has long welcomed and protected the newcomer,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New York. “Through the New Americans Hotline, we continue to provide timely information and referrals for those needing a range of help: legal representation, family reunification and unfortunately, protection from exploitation. This new law provides an enhanced opportunity for Catholic Charities in partnership with New York State to protect immigrants – always with dignity and compassion.”
Read more in the Village Voice.