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Immigration reform scam

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It's costing some people in the area thousands of dollars. Immigration experts say there's a new immigration reform scam taking advantage of people.

Local immigration experts say many people who call themselves immigration specialists or counselors, and notary publics are telling immigrants they can already start the process of becoming legal in the US. And they're asking for money in advance to start their cases.

Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle Immigration Counselor Al Muñiz says, "They have told me. 'My wife heard about this specialist in New Mexico. And her sister told her it's a good guy, and he knows what he's doing. And that he can start her papers already. And she sent him $1,500."

And Muñiz says many others in the panhandle, New Mexico and Oklahoma tell similar stories. Local immigration counselors say scammers are targeting people, who have been working for years or even decades without permits or a legal status, and are trying to become legal through the reform.

Whittenburg Law Firm Immigration Lawyer Pace Rawlins says, "If somebody's asking you for money ahead of time to be able to qualify for immigration reform, it's fraud."

Any reform still needs to be approved by the House and President before it becomes law.

Local immigration experts say you may end up getting deported because these scammers do not know what they're doing. They recommend you ask the person you seek help from, if they're an attorney. Ask to see their credentials like a gold card, which is a bar card that means their licensed by the State of Texas, or their immigration attorney license.

Rawlins says, "It's always best to seek the advice of an attorney, an immigration attorney, whether there's reform or not. Also, an immigration attorney can give them a good idea about what is in the proposal. About what might happen, so they can perhaps prepare."

Muñiz says, "You can go and ask them. You will maybe pay a fee for a consultation, but that will not be that expensive. It's better just to do that. And don't go and pay a lot of money for something that never will happen."

Whittenburg Law Firm says they'll be offering free consultations on immigration reform next Friday, July 26th in Perryton.

For more information, call (806) 345-5400.

Jessica Abuchaibe, NewsChannel 10.