FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, July 6, 2017
Abigail Lootens / Christine Gianakis
Department of Consumer Affairs
(212) 436-0042 firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Consumer Affairs Files Charges Against Organization and Its President for Deceptive "ID4ICE" Card
NEW YORK, NY–Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced charges against A New Beginning for Immigrants Rights, Inc. (NBIR) and its president, Carlos Davila, for engaging in deceptive and illegal practices to profit from immigrant consumers. NBIR, a former nonprofit corporation, and Mr. Davila have been preying on the desperation and fear of immigrants by falsely advertising“ID4ICE” cards as a “National identification card” that provides immigrants with protection against deportation and immunity from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. In reality, these identification cards, which range from $50-$200, offer no such protections and serve only as a scam to collect hundreds of dollars from vulnerable New Yorkers desperate to find a legal way to stay in the United States. DCA’s charges, which will be heard at the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), allege numerous violations and seeks more than $1.3 million dollars in fines.
"These deceptive tactics not only place immigrant New Yorkers at extraordinary risk, but also violate the City’s Consumer Protection Law,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “DCA is committed to preventing predatory immigration assistance providers from taking advantage of vulnerable New Yorkers, and we will continue to investigate anyone who engages in these practices. Immigrants should utilize the City’s free and secure services to ensure they are keeping themselves and their families safe.”
"It is unconscionable to sell a false bill of goods to immigrant communities during a time of immense uncertainty and fear," said Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. "These national IDs are fake, and the City will do everything in its power to hold fraudsters accountable. Any New Yorker without government-issued identification should call 311 to make an appointment to get a free IDNYC card -- official ID for entering City buildings, your child's school, and to interact with the NYPD."
The deception by NBIR and Mr. Davila includes:
- Engaging in Deceptive Trade Practices
NBIR and Mr. Davila advertise immigration assistance services through a variety of media, including YouTube videos, making statements that suggest the “ID4ICE” card is registered with the federal government and that it can protect cardholders from deportation, which it cannot.
- Falsely Advertising the Authorization to Provide Immigration Assistance Service
Since NBIR is no longer a tax exempt, not-for-profit organization, it no longer qualifies to be recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to provide immigration assistance services. In spite of this, Mr. Davila refers to himself as a “Legal Representative” and an “Immigration Expert” in one of NBIR’s YouTube videos. These inflated titles lead consumers to believe Mr. Davila possesses special professional skills that he does not.
- Providing Legal Advice Concerning an Immigration Matter Without a License
NBIR and Mr. Davila grossly misrepresent their ability and qualifications to provide legal advice to immigrants and they mislead consumers into paying a $45 monthly fee for supposed legal representation. For example, in one YouTube video, Mr. Davila offers legal representation in court for members of NBIR and on several occasions advises consumers what to do if an ICE agent comes to their home.
- Not Including Immigration Assistance Services Notices in Their Advertisements
NBIR advertised immigration assistance services without including the legally required notice stating that they are not an attorney licensed to practice law.
- Guaranteeing Government Action in Advertisements Related to Immigration Assistance Services
NBIR and Mr. Davila advertise in several commercials that the purchase of an “ID4ICE” card would prevent ICE from deporting the card holder; such promises are illegal and a harmful to consumers.
Although NBIR has seemingly closed its storefront, and taken down its website and Facebook page, its YouTube channel and phone number are still active. DCA is proactively investigating anyone who engages in these types of practices and encourages consumer to be wary of such promises. We encourage consumers who have fallen victim to the scam file a complaint about “false advertising” at nyc.gov/dca
or call 311.
In addition to this scam, DCA would like to warn New Yorkers about illegal and predatory immigration assistance providers who prey on vulnerable New Yorkers’ fear by luring them with false promises of work authorization, green cards, or citizenship when they may not be qualified to provide the services and do so in exchange for hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of their hard-earned dollars. Consumers can use trusted resources for immigration assistance through City-supported legal services programs such as ActionNYC
, the Immigrant Opportunity Initiative, Key to the City, and NYCitizenship.
Additional information for immigrants:
- Do not believe any provider that claims to have special influence with immigration authorities.
- In New York State, a notary public, or notario público, is not an attorney. A notary public cannot give legal advice, draft legal papers, or review documents for legality.
- If someone is not an authorized immigration service provider, they can only read the form to you, translate, and write down information that you provide.
- Get a second opinion before filling out any immigration applications.
DCA encourages consumers to visit our website to access tips on immigration service assistance
(available in English, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish and Urdu), as well as the City’s free immigration services
(available in English, Arabic, Bengali, Urdu, and several other languages).
Everyone, including undocumented immigrants, can access nearly all City services. City employees will not ask about immigration status, and if made aware of anyone’s status, are required to keep this information confidential. To make an appointment for free, safe immigration help by trusted providers through ActionNYC call 311 and say “immigration help.” For free legal help with citizenship applications call 311 and say “citizenship appointment” or call the NYCitizenship Hotline at 1-212-514-4277.
The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCA licenses more than 81,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCA protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCA empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCA also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCA and its work, call 311 or visit DCA at nyc.gov/dca or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.