September 14, 2009

Immigrants who agreed to testify, deported

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Dreams bring immigrants to the United States – under legal circumstances and otherwise. Sometimes the dreams are so powerful they make people do desperate things. And desperate people are easy prey for scams, like one unfolding now in Utah. Pamela Manson of the Salt Lake Tribune reports on a woman who has been accused by the Utah State Bar of posing as an attorney and taking money from scores of illegal immigrants – many of whom belonged to her same church —  in exchange for bogus promises to help them get legal papers. The woman has denied the allegations, and a federal investigation did not produce criminal charges, according to the Tribune report.

That such scams occur is not surprising. There have been others recently.

What is surprising, is that those immigrants who stepped forward to help immigration officers try to expose fraud, are now being deported. The immigrants say they were promised a chance to stay in the country legally, if they helped.

Immigration officials say they never promised. Some people would call that miscommunication. Some people would call that a scam.

Luis Maco is one of those waiting under threat of deportation. He agreed to wear a wire for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He’s waiting now to hear whether he will be deported to Peru, and separated from his family.

“For a person coming from another country, the American dream is bigger than to an American,” Maco said in the Tribune’s story. “It’s a dream becoming a nightmare.”

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