As soon as President Barack Obama announced his new proposal to allow millions of undocumented immigrants the chance to stay in the U.S. legally, immigration advocacy groups in San Diego were warning of something known as "notario fraud."
Undocumented immigrants wanting to apply for government deportation relief but not understanding the process are targeted by individuals and businesses looking to make money. They call themselves notarios, the title given to attorneys in Mexico.
Delia Borrayo found herself victimized by numerous notarios when she came to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant. She was a young widow and mother to three boys.
“He told me ‘I’ll fix your papers. You start paying down payments. It’s okay, don’t worry about it,’” Borrayo told NBC 7. “I started paying and paying. He sent me the bills, and I sent them the money and never see my papers. Never.”
Borrayo said this happened to her three times. In the end, the process cost her $6,000.
“We don’t have any money, but I’m working so hard to get my papers for my kids,” she said.
“A lot of times these notarios in the U.S. are not attorneys, so that gets [undocumented immigrants] into a lot of trouble sometimes,” explained Daniel Alfaro with Alliance San Diego.
One thing people need to know right now, Alfaro said, is there is no deportation relief application yet. The White House does not anticipate having an application available until spring 2015, he added.
“For now, just wait. Don’t pay anyone. Don’t sign any contracts. Be very careful of going to notarios,” he warned. “Some people have gotten deported. Some people have gone to notarios, gave them thousands of dollars and ended up getting deported.”
Alfaro said it’s important to go through the process properly and to be patient. That’s something Borraya agreed with, and admitted, she learned it the hard way.
“They need to wait. Don’t trust people that say ‘Give me money I’ll help you.’ Don’t give your money to nobody,” she said.
Alliance San Diego will be holding four informational forums on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. They’ll be held at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, Vista Library, Fallbrook Library and Spring Valley Library.