Name of Host Organization: Friends of Farmworkers
City, State: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Issue area: Consumer Rights, Immigrant Populations
Vanessa provided direct representation, advocacy, and community education to vulnerable consumers who were victims of predatory and fraudulent immigration services in Pennsylvania.
Need Addressed By Project
Immigration services fraud occurs when non-lawyers prey on immigrants’ desire for legal status. Fraudsters lie to victims about their own qualifications to provide immigration assistance, about the availability of visas, and often rob victims of thousands of dollars and trigger permanent immigration consequences like deportation. Some licensed but unscrupulous lawyers also defraud their clients, misleading them into paying thousands of dollars for unnecessary and potentially damaging immigration applications. Despite the fact that this is a significant and common problem, there has not been a focused legal effort on combating immigration services fraud in Pennsylvania. This gap in legal services, coupled with additional barriers that low-income immigrants face, including fear of law enforcement and government agencies, little education, and a lack of English skills, has resulted in victims being unable to access to our justice system.