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Misrepresenting the underrepresented

by Maria Ines Zamudio
Extra News

CHICAGO — After spending 12 days in an immigration detention center, Mario De la Rosa received welcomed news about his pending deportation case.

Within three days of his release, Margaret Carrasco, who De la Rosa said introduced herself as an immigration attorney, went to the family’s house to talk about the case. Carrasco promised not only to cancel his deportation but also to help the entire family to obtain legal residency.

Carrasco said she would initially charge $500.

“She gave me faith and made me feel secure about the future,” De la Rosa’s partner, Clara, said in Spanish. “I saw her like an angel.”

On March 26, Carrasco represented De la Rosa in his first immigration court hearing. She later filled out a political asylum application and gave it to De la Rosa, telling him to hand-deliver it to the judge at his second hearing.

Carrasco failed to attend the May 6 hearing, saying she was sick. As instructed, De la Rosa handed in the application, but the judge summarily denied it for having no basis for political asylum.

The judge told De la Rosa that Carrasco wasn’t a lawyer and advised him to go to the National Immigrant Justice Center for proper representation.

“I felt really bad. I was frustrated. How is it possible that she deceived us like this?” De la Rosa said. “We left court thinking, ‘What are we going to do? I don’t have the money to pay someone else, and what if they do the same thing to us?'”

On Oct. 14, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office file a lawsuit against Carrasco alleging that she posed “as a licensed attorney” and “cheated immigrants out of their upfront payments and put them at risk for deportation.”

“Because the immigration process …

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