Why should you avoid Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional for immigration procedures?

In my column Consulta Migratoria® I always try to provide useful information for immigrants to guide them and prevent them from becoming victims of immigration fraud.

That is why I dedicated my most recent column to warn about the criminal charges filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office against Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, Inc. and its director Gloria Saucedo for immigration fraud and explain why you should not go to that organization for your immigration paperwork.

No immigration case is the same, because it depends on each person's immigration history. That is why I always recommend that you consult with a licensed and experienced immigration attorney or a federally accredited representative to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any proceedings.

Here is the column, published in La Opinión:

Following complaints of immigration fraud and a two-year undercover investigation, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office filed criminal charges against Ms. Gloria Saucedo, Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, Inc. and two of her associates for practicing law without a license and violating the Immigration Advisors Act.

If found guilty, Ms. Saucedo could face up to five years in prison and a fine of $$32,000.

Although Ms. Saucedo has yet to be prosecuted in court for the charges she faces, it is undisputed that she was operating without a license for many years. She only obtained accreditation from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in September 2015. That is public information that can be viewed on the BIA website by clicking here.

Several people came to my office complaining about problems with paperwork at Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, Hermandad Mexicana Nacional and Hermandad Mexicana Legal Centers in 2013, and I reported the problem to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the BIA, and the Los Angeles City, Los Angeles County and State of California District Attorneys' Offices. This means that there are possibly many more people than the two women who filed complaints with the Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs after losing their legal status and other benefits after consulting with Ms. Saucedo and the other organizations for their paperwork.

In addition to the legal component of what happened, in this particular case there is a breach of trust situation.

Ms. Saucedo has gained the support of Spanish-language media as an immigration activist. Her constant presence on television has given her credibility with immigrant audiences who have not questioned her credentials to offer legal services.

That television presence is what Ms. Maria Delgado, one of the women who filed a complaint against Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, said was the reason she trusted Ms. Saucedo and her organization.

Like her, many people will surely think the same. But make no mistake about it. Ms. Saucedo is an activist who has fought for immigration reform in the past and should be thanked for her pro-immigrant work. But that does not mean she can practice law, because she is not a lawyer. And until a few months ago, she was not accredited by the federal government to provide legal assistance, as she has been doing for years.

District Attorney Mike Feuer was adamant that he will continue his battle against notarios and immigration consultants who are breaking the law and will not allow them to continue victimizing immigrants. I applaud Attorney Feuer's efforts and urge his office, the Los Angeles County and California State Attorney's Offices, and the State Bar of California to increase their investigations and prosecutions of individuals who are practicing law without authorization.

But unfortunately, while Ms. Saucedo and Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional's case is being resolved in the courts, she and her associates continue to operate out of their offices.

The investigation and charges against him are valid, otherwise Prosecutor Feuer would not have taken action. A person accused of violating the law and defrauding immigrants is not the best person to trust with your legal future in this country.

It is time for immigrants to stop using notarios and immigration consultants for their legal paperwork to avoid falling victim to scams or hurting their cases before the USCIS.

I often hear the excuse that they go to notaries because they are cheaper. But this is not true, because on several occasions, they even charge more than licensed lawyers, and they do not do the paperwork correctly, or they send applications that do not correspond.

The question that every immigrant who wants to legalize his or her situation in this country must ask is, how much is it worth to obtain permanent residency in the United States? And not only in terms of money, but also in terms of security and confidence that the best legal option for the person is being analyzed, that the process is being done well, and that the case is not lost due to negligence.

Always seek the best legal advice. If money is the problem, there are non-profit organizations, such as CARECEN, that can offer free or low-cost legal services. However, due to high demand, sometimes they cannot attend to everyone, especially urgent cases.

If you go to an immigration attorney in private practice, ask them if they offer a payment plan. The point here is that there are better options than going to notarios and immigration consultants, who by law, cannot give legal advice, and as we have seen on many occasions, ruin viable immigrant cases.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know was a victim of Transnational Mexican Sisterhood, call Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs investigators Annette Gonzalez at 323-881-7099, or Janet Godoy at 213-974-7241.

If you think you have been the victim of an immigration scam by another immigration consultant or notario, report it by calling 1-800-593-8222.

It is very important that you do not remain silent if you have been a victim of Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional or any other agency or individuals operating illegally. This is the only way to bring the full weight of the law to bear on these individuals and shut down businesses that prey on immigrants.

Here you can see a report from Estrella TV about the previous denunciations I made: