There are 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, and, by one estimate, one in ten of them has been the victim of some sort of fraud—deceived by scammers who promise to expedite their visas, free them from detention, or help with their asylum claims for a fee. The true scale of these schemes, collectively known as notario fraud, is impossible to know because victims are reluctant to come forward for fear of being deported. And the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy is now creating the perfect conditions for scammers to thrive. In “The Deportation Racket,” Micah Hauser investigates a husband-and-wife team of con artists who pretended to be lawyers and scammed hundreds of undocumented immigrants in detention centers across the South.
In this episode, Hauser, a former fellow at Columbia Journalism School’s Global Migration Project, talks with Harper’s editor Rachel Poser about how the pair operated, and what needs to be done to protect immigrants from fraudsters.