Undocumented Life: Fraud complaints against prominent immigration activist pile up

The number of undocumented immigrants accusing a prominent immigration activist of scamming them out of thousands of dollars by pretending to be an immigration lawyer keeps growing.

The most recent complaint against Margaret Carrasco, filed back in April, was by a 19 year-old undocumented woman who met Carrasco in immigration court. The mother of a 4-year-old was under deportation proceedings in October 2011 when Carrasco offered to represent her.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a civil lawsuit against Carrasco last November, following a Chicago Reporter investigation.  The most recent complaint brings to 10 the number of victims who say Carrasco has swindled them.

In this case, Carrasco told the mother she could help her file a U visa, which she qualified for since she was suffering from domestic abuse. The woman paid Carrasco $350 in cash and deposited $150 to her bank account, according to the complaint.

But Carrasco never showed up to court or filed the application. When the woman appeared in court, an immigration judge told her Carrasco was not an attorney, according to the complaint.

A Reporter investigation found that Carrasco was listed under “attorney name” in 40 cases at the Chicago immigration court between March 2010 and June 2011, according to records from the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Carrasco said she couldn't talk about the case and referred all questions to her lawyer, David Zipp.

"I believe my client will be exonerated," Zipp said. "I don't believe based on the evidence that she's guilty of fraud."

The lawsuit is seeking restitution and to ban Carrasco from having this type of business in illinois. The priority is restitution, said Maura Possley, a spokeswoman for Madigan's office.

The 19-year-old undocumented woman is now being represented by the National Immigrant Justice Center.

© Community Renewal Society 2012

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