President Trump’s announcement of planned immigration raids in Los Angeles and other major U.S. cities beginning Sunday has heightened fears and anxiety in targeted communities, leaving many seeking legal help susceptible to scams, advocates say.
“Announcements such as these, including the latest one of upcoming raids, unfortunately makes people scramble to find any sort of assistance,” said Jose Luis Garcia, the managing attorney at the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, based in Los Angeles.
Unlicensed immigration consultants, commonly known as notarios in Latin American communities, can cause serious harm to an immigrant’s legal case, experts say. This could be anyone who provides immigration-related services for a fee but who is not authorized to provide any sort of legal aid.
“Fear, need and anxiety are driving people to try to find some legal help,” said Rigo Reyes, the executive director of Los Angeles County’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Immigrants are pushed to “find someone who’s going to give them the answer they want to hear, even if it’s not real,” he said.
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