How Trump’s Immigration Policy Spurred a Deportation Scam

Here's how Donald Trump's policies could affect your money.

For those who thought President Trump’s stance on immigration was the gossamer of election year overpromising, it’s time to adjust that thinking. The administration last week unveiled plans to target all “removable” aliens. It is a staggering number of people: 11 million.

If I told you that Price Waterhouse blamed the envelope mix-up at the Oscars on a practical joke devised by Warren Beatty and provided a link to the story, would you click through? How about if I included a link to a picture of the actual card that made Oscar history?

Fake news is the scam artist’s stock in trade — whether we’re talking about the kind that our 45th president keeps talking about, or something that takes advantage of a trending story.

Scam artists work fast, often riffing off the daily news to build their improvised traps, but sometimes they rip their scams from the headlines and take them to the street. (You can monitor two of your free credit scores for signs of foul play every two weeks on Credit.com.)

That’s what happened last week in reaction to Trump’s immigration policy. Criminals were waiting in the wings to capitalize on it, which inspired thuggish stick-ups and made necessary a warning from the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The alert was issued after raids were conducted nationwide by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to reports, hundreds of undocumented immigrants were arrested. It was big news, giving rise to political indignation by opponents of the Trump doctrine and sparking fear among immigrant communities.

Almost immediately, the scams began. According to Schneiderman’s office, four men wearing ICE apparel stopped a man on a street off of Roosevelt Avenue in Queens. They demanded cash. When he refused, they told the man he would be arrested. In another incident that made the news, a man in the immigrant-filled Queens neighborhood was told to hand over $250 or be arrested.

It’s unclear whether the ICE apparel was legitimate or duplicated by the thieves.

ICE gear can be purchased online, but Sallycopshop.com, one purveyor of such apparel, said it requires proof of employment by the law force. (Two other online sites offering ICE gear declined to comment for this article or failed to respond before publication.)

“The customer must ship their work address and have an ICE government email address for items with badges or lettering on it,” a Sallycopshop.com spokesperson said in an email. “We do go through each order individually to validate the customer is a federal agent or officer.”

Although many images of the recent ICE raids feature real officers wearing jackets and body armor clearly marked “ICE,” an agency spokesman told me that ICE officers and agents work in street clothes.

“I’m going to guess there are special requirements for clothing that indicate an official law enforcement capacity,” agency spokesperson Khaalid Walls said.

Regardless of the methods, there are several scams immigrants worried about the specter of ICE arrests need to be on the lookout for. Here are the big three, along with some tips culled from Schneiderman’s recent warning.

1. Fake ICE Agents

The attorney general states that ICE agents will never ask for money or threaten detainment and do not have the authority to enter your resident without a court-issued warrant. If a purported ICE agent knocks on your door, be polite, but firm. The law’s the law. Ask to see badges, and if you still smell a rat, call 911.

2. Beware Phone Calls

Some criminals stay out of sight, preferring to make phone calls that amount to the same sort of “pay or don’t stay” shakedown. Anyone who has read my columns warning of IRS phone scams will recognize this modus operandi — and this next tip. Remember: Just because your caller ID says the caller is from the government doesn’t make it so. Phone numbers can be spoofed. Bottom line: Immigration will not ask for anything important over the phone — not your personally identifying information and not money. If “they” do, hang up.

3. Notario Scams

As Schneiderman’s office points out, notario can be a much bigger and better job in Latin America — with a lot more power — than “notary” connotes in the U.S. In Latin America, a notario is anyone who can perform legal services — including lawyers. Beware people who try to make bank on this linguistic misunderstanding. Whether the claim is to speed up an application or otherwise help you get legal status, be careful. Check credentials and ask for references. If you are met with hostility, say goodbye and find a reputable service.

There are more tips and information regarding common traps and shady practices that immigrants face on the Attorney General’s website, which directs New York residents to report potential fraud or other issues regarding immigration services to its Immigration Services Fraud Unit Hotline at (866) 390-2992 or via email at Civil.Rights@ag.NY.gov. Those outside New York can get in touch with the Federal Trade Commission and file a complaint in their state.

Here is the great irony: Trump’s push to arrest and deport “removable” immigrants has given rise to fake cops, sewing doubt about the immigration enforcement authorities in a way that echoes Trump’s constant refrain of “fake news,” which has dangerously destabilized the public’s trust in our media.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

Image: ginosphotos 

The post How Trump’s Immigration Policy Spurred a Deportation Scam appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Tips for Entrepreneurs Worried About Trump Immigration Policies

The Obama administration took steps to help foreign entrepreneurs stay in the United States but will the Trump immigration policy changes alter that?

When Mike Galarza first heard what then-candidate Donald Trump had to say about building a wall between the United States and Mexico, deporting illegal immigrants and possibly limiting legal immigration, he was stunned. As an immigrant from Mexico, the issue was personal, but as an entrepreneur and business owner, he worried it could also impact his bottom line.

“It’s a bad representation of American culture and it’s totally the opposite of what I’ve seen and my reality here in the U.S.,” Galarza, the founder and CEO of of billing automation startup Entryless, and one of Business Insider’s “Badass Immigrants in Technology,” said. “I think it’s a very divisive rhetoric that goes beyond the Mexican people … so my first reaction was ‘he is not what America is, not what America stands for.’”

Galarza has beefed up his visa and is actively pursuing a green card. And in light of Trump’s executive order Wednesday that directs funds to build a border wall and curtail some immigration, Galarza is waiting to see whether it could signal that documented immigrants may have a harder time doing business in the United States over the next several years.

The White House declined to comment on how new immigration policies might impact current visa holders or future visa applicants.

What to Watch for 

What will be most telling, according to Susan J. Cohen, founder and chair of the immigration practice at law firm Mintz Levin in Boston, is what the administration does with a ruling by the Department of Homeland Security in the waning days of the Obama Administration. The International Entrepreneur Rule has been frozen pro forma along with most pending rulings and edicts across most federal government departments as the new administration reviews them.

Galarza

Mike Galarza beefed up his visa ahead of potential immigration policy changes. Photo courtesy of Mike Galarza.

“I think what happens with that rule will at least provide some insight into how some of the other aspects of immigration may go in this administration,” Cohen said.

The rule, set to take effect July 17 if it isn’t altered by the new administration, provides for a “parole” period for foreign entrepreneurs, granting them 2.5 years in the United States to establish and grow a startup. They would, of course, need to qualify for that time, including having $250,000 in funding and being able to demonstrate the potential for “significant public benefit.” After the parole period, the applicant would be able to apply for a 2.5 year extension as long as the startup meets additional benchmarks.

“Right now, I think we’re just in wait-and-see mode with respect to the skilled worker population who have extraordinary talents that they would like to bring to the United States,” Cohen said.

Waiting and seeing is exactly what Galarza, who grew up in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, is doing. Last October, he wrote about his concerns for the future of his company and himself in the United States in a blog post on inDinero.com.

When I founded Entryless, I faced—and continue to face—unique challenges because of my immigrant status. I came to the U.S. from Mexico in 2009 on a travel Visa, which allowed me to work for an employer but not for myself. This required me to build Entryless from the ground up in my spare time—and by spare time, I mean at night when I should’ve been sleeping … It was worth every sleepless night. I now have an E2 Visa, and even though I have to return to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico each year to renew it, Entryless is established and growing. However, my next renewal is not a slam dunk — especially if the next administration adopts isolationist policies.

Since then, Galarza decided it was as good a time as any to beef up his visa. He recently upgraded to an EB1 visa, also known as an Outstanding Researcher or Professor visa. It renews every 10 years, which he says gives him some comfort now that Trump is in office. He also is actively working on getting his green card.

Reviewing visa options and starting the green card process are both good steps for immigrant entrepreneurs regardless of whether they are just setting up a business or, like Galarza, have been established for some time, according to Cohen.

Here are four things immigrant entrepreneurs can do right now to help ensure their business succeeds in the United States going forward.

1. Talk to an Immigration Attorney

“It’s important to meet with a competent professional who can help each person explore all possible options and leave no stone unturned to try to figure out a solution that will allow the individual to hopefully remain in a secure immigration status in the U.S. if that’s what they want to do,“ Cohen said.

Depending on your immigration status, that process could mean looking at which visa fits your situation best, looking at a different kind of visa that provides a little more security like Galarza did; it could mean seeking green card status or even applying for citizenship, Cohen said.

2. Breathe

Nothing is going to change right away, Cohen said. There are few unilateral changes that the new president can make (The North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA’s) TN-1 visas excluded. They would disappear if the United States withdraws from NAFTA). Most immigration reform, including changes to visa requirements, and even changes to how visas are vetted will take time.

“Things are going to take a considerable period of time before they get changed,” Cohen said. “There are a lot of things that can’t be changed without Congress.”

3. Focus on Your Business

“Get customers,” Galarza said. “That’s the first thing, because if you have that really nothing can stop you, because there’s a need for your product and people that rely on it and it becomes critical to them and their existence and there’s this chain that gets created. Based on that … you can prove to the American immigration system that you’ve earned your right to stay in this country and to get funding to grow your business faster.”

4. Create Your Own Funding

If you’re just starting your business or are at a point where you are ready to expand but can’t secure venture capital or small business loans, credit cards can help you get through short-term cash flow issues, even if your credit isn’t stellar or you don’t have a credit history.

In fact, using a credit card for your business expenses can even help you establish and improve your credit standing. Keep in mind, however, that you can go overboard. It’s possible to have too many credit cards, which can lead to too much debt, missed payments because you can’t keep up with the due dates and other issues.

Image: BasSlabbers

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