California state officials warn against immigration consultant scams

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- California's secretary of state began a new effort to protect those who want help with immigration consulting services.

Thousands of new U.S. citizens attended an immigration ceremony in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday.

Pakistani immigrant Mohammed Qureshi said he was quite nervous after the turmoil over the last few weeks.

"My family, they are still waiting. They have a green card. I'm really worried about them," Qureshi shared. "Hopefully, one day they will also become a citizen of (the) United States."

Immigration advocates shared that the current concern among communities leaves them susceptible to possible scams from immigration consultants.

"The unintended consequence of amplified immigration enforcement is fear from our communities. That leads to a golden opportunity by unscrupulous individuals that play and profit from this fear," said Angelica Salas with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said immigration consultants are legal but must be registered with the state and cannot give legal advice.

His department has set up new online resources to reach out to the community and help immigrants.

"They are immigration consultants, not immigration attorneys. They also cannot promise or guarantee results and anybody who makes that offer is not complying with California law," Padilla said.

Victims of unauthorized immigration consultants are asked to contact the secretary of state or the attorney general's office to begin an investigation.
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