In the late 1990s it was scammed by La Guadalupana, an immigration services office in Orange County

Sarita Ramírez who was the victim of one of the largest immigration fraud in the history of California, managed to obtain permanent residence in the United States, more than three decades after entering the country without documents in search of a better life.

“I have cried a lot of joy. I am no longer afraid that migration will come to my house or work to arrest me or deport me, ”says this Mexican immigrant who last week received her resident card.

Between 1995 and 1996, Sarita shed a river of tears when on television she learned that the police had come to arrest the operators of the La Guadalupana Migration Services Office in the city of Santa Ana in Orange County for cheating more of 2,000 immigrants who paid them almost four million dollars.

"My ex-husband and I lost between $ 9,000 and $ 10,000 because they demanded that they be paid the full amount to help us. ”, remember.

Sara Ramirez shows her permanent resident card for which she fought for more than three decades. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

He explains that it was long lines that they made to enter the offices of La Guadalupana. "They were in high demand," he says.

“They promised to fix our residence, but they didn't want you to ask anything about the details. In the end, after a long time of waiting for my papers, they told me that the only thing they were doing was to save time until my son was over 21 years old so they could apply for my residence, ”he says.

But at that time, his eldest son was only six years old, so Sarita felt very frustrated and began to feel cheated.

Sara Ramírez managed to obtain residency despite suffering immigration fraud. (Photo courtesy Paulina Herrera)

As he worried most, when he discovered the mega-fraud of La Guadalupana was a possible deportation. "Not only were we robbed but all our papers were confiscated. My biggest fear was that the police would hand them over to migration and come for me to arrest me. I cried a lot ", recognize.

He even believes that this fraud was decisive for the separation of the father from his two children. "That was the reason for many recriminations and accusations in the couple for all the money we lost and for having been exposed. My ex-husband was also applying for residence through La Guadalupana," she says. “Many of the victims were deported as a result of the mismanagement carried out by the Hernández family that ran the business,” he says.

Although the police arrested some people involved, the main operators Roberto Hernández, the owner; and manager Maricela Camarillo escaped. "I don't know if they got caught again," he says.

Sara Ramirez is happy because she has become a permanent resident of the United States after being a victim of immigration fraud. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

For a better life

Sarita entered the United States undocumentedly in 1986, fleeing the poverty of his people in Oaxaca. The first years he worked in the field in the Salinas area, in northern California. Then he came to Los Angeles where he met another Mexican immigrant with whom he married and had two children Alejandro Kevin De La Luz, now 27 years old; and Eduardo de La Luz, 22 years old.

During the two years he worked in the field, prior to the fraud he was subjected to, he obtained a work permit, a social security number and temporary residence thanks to the Special Agricultural Workers Act (SAW), but when he stopped working in the field, lost the benefits.

However, in 1996 he was able to travel to Mexico and enter without any problem legally with the Saw Card.

After the fraud of which he was a victim, Sarita let several years go by without doing anything. And apparently he didn't learn his lesson immediately because he went to see another notary again. “That one did tell me that he couldn't help me and I didn't come back. I also went with a lawyer that I didn't like, ”he says.

A year ago he went to see immigration lawyer Eric Price. “My sister recommended it to me. He told me that he had been a migration prosecutor, ”he talks.

She felt confident when Price after studying her case, promised to help her.

“He applied for my residence on the grounds that my oldest son had already passed the age of 21. And since I already had a legal entry, I didn't have to leave the country, ”he explains.

Sara Ramirez shows some photos next to her two children who are happy that her mother is no longer at risk of deportation. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion).

Even when his case was in the hands of Price, Sarita confesses that he lived in fear. “By then, Trump was president. I work in a place where we take care of elders and just saw a police detective enter, I thought they were going for me, ”he says.

Worse yet, he says he ordered a lock to the gate of his garage to prevent ICE agents from entering and knocking on the door in case they came looking for it.

“I lived really terrified. I even asked the lawyer to give me a letter to deliver to Migration if they came looking for me, ”he says.

All of Sarita's fears ended when she obtained her residence card last week.

“I no longer live in fear of being arrested. I thank God because all my family in Oaxaca was in prayer to give me residence, ”he admits with a smile from ear to ear.

At 51, Sarita feels the happiest woman. “For the first time in more than 30 years, I am very happy. Calvary is over. Now I want to realize my dreams like buying a house in Las Vegas; and go to Oaxaca in May 2020 to visit my parents whom I have not seen in many years. They already got old, ”he says.


This mother recommends undocumented immigrants not to go with notaries to try to fix their immigration status.

“Be suspicious when someone asks you to pay everything in one payment; and ask for references to other people who have already resolved their cases, ”he advises.

But he also tells them to take care of their record, do not commit crimes and avoid asking for public help from the government.

"Despite all the difficult tests I've been through, I never turned to the government for help and paid my taxes religiously, including a retirement fund," he observes.

How he won the residence

Attorney Price explains that Sarita was able to obtain his residence in a year by having a legal entry and a child citizen of the United States.

He says that the Temporary Workers Act or the SAW card was crucial for this case. “We were able to prove that he entered the country through a normal border process and appeared before an officer. People with SAW cards could legally enter and leave the country. ”

What do immigrants recommend to avoid being victims of immigration fraud by a notary or even a lawyer?

“Just hire a lawyer and ask for an agreement in Spanish, visit his office and make sure you feel confident in his opinion. It is important that before deciding on one, they visit several lawyers to have multiple opinions. ”

What is the lesson after Sarita's case?

"If you had a temporary residence in the 80s or a SAW card and used it to enter the country, you may be eligible for residence through a U.S. citizen husband or child."

The lawyer assures that the immigrant community is very vulnerable to frauds that in extreme cases end up in loss of money, time; and sometimes in deportation.

“It will always be preferable to go to an honest lawyer, certified by the Bar Association and have an office, staff and resources to represent each case before the immigration authorities,” he notes.

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