Today’s news:

Point of View: Flushing immigrants search for trustworthy lawyers

Beware of the ad trap, folks. I mean the new arrivals from Southeast Asian and South Pacific areas seeking legal help in their status in this country.

Two so-called law firms on Main Street in Flushing closed their doors last year after having defrauded many immigrants, and its operators disappeared with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Despite that, deceptive ads continue to appear in local Chinese-language newspapers.

Of course, similar fraudulent cases also happen almost daily to individuals of other ethnic groups across the nation.

Phony law firms make false promises that they can help illegal aliens stay here permanently. Some of the lawyers themselves may be illegal.

It’s sad that illegals prey on illegals. Even though their scam is discovered, the phonies don’t think their victims have the guts to report it to law enforcement authorities.

It’s perhaps the easiest way to make a fast buck — just a studio with a clerk and a desk, in addition to an exaggerated ad. The price of a coveted green card could be more than $20,000. But the waiting for it is endless. Their money-back guarantee is but a lie.

What’s the root cause of the fraud? Snakeheads. We must eradicate the snakeheads or the problem will linger.

With the proposed budget cuts, the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) will find it very hard to apprehend the shrewd snakeheads who sneak people into this country via unconventional channels. Their victims usually wander around the world for months, if not years, before they finally set foot on American soil.

To totalitarian regimes, the United States is the most hated country in the world, but to their people, America is the most loved land, where they can realize their lifetime dreams.

Many of the illegals who came to this country did so at a great risk to their lives. Over the years, quite a few Cubans and Haitians drowned in the ocean while making their way to this land of opportunities. On April 11, Cuba executed three people charged with hijacking a ferry and directing it to Florida.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of bona fide immigration lawyers who advise illegal aliens how to proceed legally.

Unfortunately, there are a few bad apples among them. At least one had collaborated with snakeheads, helped a lot of illegal aliens enter the United States and sought political asylum for them under the pretext of avoiding persecution. In fact, a great majority of them came here solely for economic reasons.

It’s greed, not compassion, that drove one lawyer (whose name is withheld) to work with snakeheads. As a result, he had made tons of money since 1993. It was reported that he had owned huge amounts of real estate on Long Island.

Both he and his Chinese wife were arrested and convicted in September of wrongdoing, thanks to a disgruntled insider who tipped off the authorities about the dark side of the law firm in Manhattan.

It was reported that the couple posted bail for illegal aliens. Once they were released on bail, the law firm would concoct documents for them based on their education levels, in an effort to convince authorities that those fellows were here to avoid political persecution in their native country.

It’s inexcusable for a lawyer to flout the law. This case should serve as a warning to those bent on deceiving the government and ripping off the illegal aliens. The couple is serving a maximum prison term of 97 months. They deserve it.

Here’s a legal expert’s advice for those who wish to change their status:

Find a lawyer with certificates issued by the American Bar Association and the government or academic institutes. According to Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services policy, an applicant is required to submit a “notice of entry of appearance as attorney or representative.’’

Consult several lawyers before making your final choice.

Think twice before continuing to consult a lawyer who brags about his career but shows little concern over your case.

Avoid a law firm whose office is in poor condition or its staff requests you to make false documents.

A responsible lawyer would tell you what he can and cannot do for you.

If you have any complaints about your lawyer, you can write to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee, 61 Broadway, Second Floor, New York, NY 10006.

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