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Bronx Immigration Lawyer Conned Thousands of Migrants by Promising Green Cards in a Cunning Illegal Scheme


Lyudmila Balabay

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Federal authorities accused Bronx lawyer in a "large-scale" immigration scam. In his scheme, Kofi Amankwaa used a law that allows victims of domestic violence to obtain a green card. Amankwaa deceived hundreds of immigrants, some of them were deported, writes Documented.

Amankwaa, 69, and his son, Kofi Amankwaa Jr., 37, filed false I-360 petitions. These petitions are based on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and allow, among other things, illegal immigrants to obtain a green card if their US citizen child is subjecting them to domestic violence.

Amankwaa filed false statements on behalf of his clients, claiming that their children had abused them. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, Amankwaa and his son, who worked in his father's office as a paralegal, knew that the children named in the petitions did not abuse their parents. Moreover, the lawyer did not even ask the clients whether any violence had occurred.

From September 2016 to January 22, 2024, Amankwaa filed nearly 4000 VAWA petitions.

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Amankwaa and Amankwaa Jr. were arrested on January 22. They were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and commit immigration fraud.

In November, Amankwaa's license to practice in New York was suspended after multiple complaints that he submitted fraudulent documents containing "false allegations." But his office continued to operate.

On January 22, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Amankwaa and his son, as well as three other employees of their office, for defrauding immigrants out of thousands of dollars and providing bogus immigration assistance. The lawsuit demands that Amankwaa and the other defendants pay restitution and damages to victims.

Families who turned to Amankwaa for help said he filed VAWA petitions against them without telling his clients the nature of the petitions or the dire consequences of denying the petition (in which case the parent could be deported). An investigation by the state attorney general concluded that Amankwaa lied to clients that they would be safe to leave and re-enter the United States after submitting documents.

Ricardo Velasquez Jr., whose case is cited in the lawsuit, said Amankwaa said his father would be able to travel to Mexico and then re-enter the United States. But when his father, Ricardo Velasquez Sr., flew into JFK Airport in March 2023 after a visit to Mexico, immigration officials detained him and then deported him.

Olga Perez, whose parents were Amankwaa's clients, learned years later that her parents' immigration papers identified her as an abuser. The parents, who had lived in the U.S. illegally for more than two decades and were seeking legal status, said a lawyer promised them work permits and the ability to travel. However, the family said they had no idea that as part of the trial, a lawyer would file false statements on their behalf accusing their daughter of abusing them.

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