Judge Halts Second Immigration Agency From Doing Business - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/11/05-Smith County

Judge Halts Second Immigration Agency From Doing Business

Hundreds of East Texans say they're victims of some local immigration scams. The Texas Attorney General sued three immigration operations, accusing them of defrauding consumers of thousands of dollars.

For eight years, one of those consumers, a Smith County woman, has tried to help her husband apply for U.S. citizenship.

Neither of them wants to be identified, but she was willing to tell us their story.

After paying more than $2,000 in application and service fees to Mundo Latino in Smith County, she's finding out, that money may not get her results.

"It's really frustrating, very frustrating," she said. "Because you think that you go to a place that's legit, only to find out later on that they're not."

Today, a district judge put a temporary injunction on Mundo Latino, preventing them from doing business, pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General. The AG says Mundo Latino is not authorized to provide immigration services.

The agency's attorney disagrees: "Mr. Avila does not believe that he has been operating illegally and merely assisting apparently some people in filling out their immigration forms," Bill Rosenstein said.

Ana Fuggins operates an accredited agency in Tyler called the Hispanic American Association. She's picked up many cases she says were mishandled by unaccredited agencies that caused consumers a lot of legal trouble.

"Many of them find themselves in deportation proceedings because of the information that was provided to the INS that was wrong or was false," Fuggins said.

You can find a list of accredited immigration agencies online at the website of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

"My main concern is where is that going to put our family, you know, our situation with INS," Mundo Latino's unidentified client said.

She's also concerned about what will happen to the hundreds of other East Texas Hispanics whose cases have now come to a grinding halt.

Mundo Latino is scheduled to go on trial in September.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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