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New State Law Helps Protect Legal Immigrants From Fraud

State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Photo Credit: New York State Senate

YONKERS, N.Y. -- State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D- Yonkers) announced a new law that enhanced fraud protections for immigrants seeking assistance in New York State became law on Monday.

“New York has a proud history of welcoming immigrants and embracing the contributions they make to our communities,” Stewart-Cousins, the Senate minority leader, said in a statement. “However, there are also some unscrupulous people offering services to help them adjust to life in New York who take their money and provide little to no assistance. My office has worked with constituents who have had this happen to them. This new law ensures there are protections in place for the often vulnerable newcomers to our country and our state.”

The law creates felony and misdemeanor crimes for immigration assistance fraud in order to deter service providers from taking advantage of immigrants that seek their help.

The new legislation also includes provisions to enhance translation requirements, increase civil penalties for violations, and prohibit the use of job titles used to mislead immigrants to believe that a provider is a specialized professional or attorney, when the provider is not certified.

The law also establishes the New York State Office for New Americans (NYSONA) as a permanent executive office of State government. The Office for New Americans is the first state-level immigrant office created by statute in the country, according to the Governor’s Office.

Additionally, the measure includes an outreach campaign to raise fraud awareness and gives the Office for New Americans permanent status.

“When immigrants come to New York they need assurance that service providers are there to help them on their path to citizenship and success, not take advantage of them,” Stewart-Cousins, who also represents Greenburgh, Scarsdale and New Rochelle, said in a statement. “I commend Governor (Andrew) Cuomo and the Legislature for taking action to ensure that immigrants are welcomed with respect and get the valuable services they deserve as new New Yorkers.”

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