Legislation Targets Immigration Fraud

Increases Penalties For Convicted

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation to better protect immigrants living in New York from potential fraud or wrongdoing as they seek immigration-related assistance.

These new New Yorkers will now benefit from stricter assistanceprovider requirements, including the addition of a new crime to discourage this type of fraud. This bill also designates the New York State Office for New Americans-which Cuomo launched last year-as a permanent executive office of state government, whose primary purpose is to offer support to the immigrant population.

Complementing the legislation signed last Wednesday, Aug. 6, a statewide multilingual public service campaign is in progress to warn newcomers against fraud and encourage them to seek assistance if they feel they are a victim of an immigration-related scam.

“New York has a long history of welcoming immigrants from around the world, and today we are continuing that heritage with a new law that protects new New Yorkers and solidifies the services we provide,” Cuomo said last Wednesday. “This bill will support those who come seeking a better future for their families, and I am proud to sign it into law today.”

The legislation will strengthen protections by enhancing translation requirements, increasing civil penalties for violations of the law, and barring the use of job titles that aim to mislead an assistance-seeker into believing that a service provider is an attorney or otherwise specialized professional when the provider has no such credential. It creates two new crimes, felony and misdemeanor immigration assistance fraud.

Additionally, the bill codifies the Office for New Americans, launched by the Governor in March 2013, which provides a range of services to New York’s recent immigration population. Just last year, the office helped over 34,000 people through neighborhood-based opportunity centers and a toll-free multi-lingual hotline (1-800-566-7636) offering a variety of services.

The Opportunity Centers teach New Americans English, assist them in the process of becoming naturalized U.S. citizens, provide free legal advice so they can start and grow businesses, as well as offer training to community based organizations so that they may offer immigration services. The Office for New Americans is the first state-level immigrant office created by statute in the country.

“By empowering our communities through legitimate services, we not only provide needed assistance to a vulnerable population, we also create economic opportunities across the State that will eventually benefit every New Yorker,” New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales said.

This law passed both houses of the legislature as S.6732-A and A.8947B, respectively.

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