Fund Started for Victims of New York Immigration Nonprofit Groups: Eduardo Juarez Reportedly Took Thousands From Clients, Some Deported
On Monday, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a $2.2 million restitution fund for those who were scammed by TV and radio star and Spanish-language newspaper columnist Eduardo Juarez, who reportedly took money from thousands of undocumented immigrants under the lure of citizenship.
"This was a really serious case of fraud. There were people who paid -- one person paid $18,000 who was actually eligible for a green card, but because they didn't really provide legal services, he missed his opportunity," Schneiderman said according to NY1 News.
New York Daily News reported that the fund is part of a 2013 settlement structured to benefit victims of the nonprofit groups International Immigrants Foundation Inc. and International Professional Association, which were both closed in 2010.
Juarez is known for his work on various Spanish-language radio and TV programs as well as his column in El Diario-La Presna. He was the head of both nonprofit groups, which saw 18,000 clients paying thousands for legal help with their immigrations status. Still, Schneiderman said many of the clients got minimal time with lawyers, and some were deported.
"When I first heard him on his Saturday morning show, I thought Juarez was a serious man who could help me," Albert Fernandez, a victim and Dominican who has been an undocumented immigrant in New York for 20 years, said. "How wrong I was. They assured me they could get me legal papers, but then they told me my application was filed late, and I would have to refile and they wanted more money for that."
Fernandez estimates losing almost $10,000 and never obtained citizenship.
Victims have until Oct. 13 to file a claim form. They are available by calling (212) 514-4265 or visiting www.nylag.org/IPA.
"I urge all eligible individuals to participate in the claims process, without fear of reprisal," Schneiderman said.
Follow Scharon Harding on Twitter: @ScharHar.