Campaign to protect immigrant consumers

New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) has launched the Immigrant Consumer Justice, a new two-year campaign aimed at protecting immigrant consumers in Queens.
“We trained 15 volunteers to go around the community and educate the people that they have rights as consumers,” said Marta Chavez, coordinator of advocacy and organizing for NICE, a non-profit organization based in Jackson Heights. “We also distribute fliers and conduct presentations in schools and community centers.”
One such event was the community forum held at P.S. 19 in Corona on Wednesday, October 27. A representative from the Attorney General’s office came in and gave a presentation about how immigrants can protect themselves from immigration fraud. The attendees were advised to get a second opinion and to use the Internet to verify their attorney was certified.
At the forum, they spoke about individuals who are lured by scammers, who promise that they can represent them in front of the federal government and obtain the necessary paperwork. One attendee, who wouldn’t give his name because he’s undocumented, shared he almost fell into that trap.
“I don’t have papers and I saw this ad on TV that looked legit, so I went and paid my $75 for a consultation,” the attendee said. “They offered me to pay in installments over few months and told me that it will take about a year and a half to get the papers, but they guaranteed it will all work out.”
While he wasn’t convinced and didn’t continue to make payments, many others have fallen prey to those kinds of scams.
Forums, like the one organized by NICE, try to educate immigrants about the rights that they have under American laws and make them more aware about frauds. NICE is already collaborating with other organizations in order to help immigrant consumers throughout the city.
“We aim to educate the consumer, but also work with elected officials in order to pass legislation that will look out for the interest of the consumer,” Chavez said. “We are working with government officials in Queens to create a task force that will focus on resolving the issue.”

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