Bronx Immigration Lawyer Charged with Fraud and Deportations in Scam Targeting Clients

Bronx, New York – Attorney General Letitia James announced charges against immigration lawyer Kofi Amankwaa for allegedly defrauding clients from 2016 to 2023. The scheme resulted in some clients having their green cards denied and others being deported. Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, also filed criminal charges against Amankwaa and his associates for their involvement in the “large-scale immigration fraud scheme.”

According to the lawsuits, Amankwaa and his office illegally filed thousands of petitions under the Violence Against Women Act, falsely accusing clients’ children of abuse against their parents. This fraudulent tactic was intended to expedite the parents’ application for lawful residency. Clients were not made aware of these petitions and when questioned by immigration authorities, they refused to go along with the lie, thus leading to their deportation. Amankwaa’s office also provided clients with advice they were not qualified to give, misrepresenting themselves as licensed attorneys.

The allegations against Amankwaa came to light last year, with some affected families sharing their experiences with the local immigration news site, Documented. As a result, Amankwaa’s law license was suspended in November 2023. In a statement, Williams stated that Amankwaa and his associates “sought to make a mockery of the U.S. immigration system.”

Meanwhile, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson and Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC launched the “Be Bronx, Be Big” campaign to increase youth mentorship in the Bronx. This campaign aims to address concerns over youth crime and lack of positive opportunities in the borough. Despite serving over 2,500 young people in the 2021 fiscal year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC only reached 21 percent of its youth mentees from the Bronx, the second-lowest percentage among the boroughs. Gibson aims to increase these numbers by bringing the initiative to every corner of the Bronx and engaging both youth and adults. She emphasized the need for mentors who share the same background as the Bronx youth, ensuring they represent the diversity of the community.

In a separate community effort, Jorge Alguera, a student at CUNY School of Law, is providing legal assistance to asylum seekers through CUNY’s Emerging Needs Clinics. Alguera, who himself was once an undocumented immigrant, sees this opportunity as a way to help newcomers avoid years of living in the shadows and positively impact future generations.

The Bronx district attorney’s office, led by DA Darcel Clark, and Not On My Watch Inc. (NOMW) hosted a Human Trafficking Awareness Red Sand Project event at the Office of the Bronx County’s District Attorney in honor of National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The Red Sand Project involves pouring red sand into pavement cracks as a symbolic representation of the millions forced into unimaginable situations such as forced labor or sex trafficking.

On a different note, average rent prices in the Bronx increased by 7.91% in the past year, following a trend seen in other New York City boroughs. This increase can be attributed to new housing developments by large developers in the Bronx, such as Brookfield Properties and RXR Realty. Studio apartments in the Bronx saw the highest increase in rent prices at 9.67%, followed by one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. Despite the rising rent costs, CUNY continues to support immigrants and the community through programs like CUNY Citizenship Now!, providing expertise and assistance to navigate the complex immigration system.

In conclusion, Bronx residents are dealing with the fallout from a large-scale immigration fraud scheme orchestrated by attorney Kofi Amankwaa. Meanwhile, local leaders and organizations are launching initiatives to address issues like youth mentorship, human trafficking awareness, and the rising cost of housing. Through these efforts, they aim to provide support, guidance, and protection to the Bronx community.