ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – Immigrants in detention centers around the country are being targeted and harassed, according to a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Tish James, the attorneys general from Virginia and Massachusetts and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The claim, filed in Virginia on Monday, argues that Libre by Nexus offered to front detainees the money needed to be released, but then lied about how much was owed, often charging thousands of dollars more than the total.
James said that most of Libre’s customers speak Spanish but were presented contracts in English. Libre claimed to offer support and free legal services but James said the immigrants got neither. At most, some clients got legal referrals.
The lawsuit said the company often forced clients to wear tracking devices during the repayment period.
“What strikes at my heart, is the inhumane way in which Libre shackled immigrants with homing devices so they could keep tabs on their investments,” said James
James said the GPS devices were bulky and strapped their ankles causing injuries, she also said the tracking devices usually didn’t work.
She said the company misrepresented itself by pretending to be a part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also known as I.C.E..
“They left the false impression that the company was associated with law enforcement, so that immigrants got the idea that if they didn’t take heed to the company, they’d be arrested or worse deported,” said James.
James alleges the company has and continues to violate several laws, including the Dodd‐Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s prohibition on deceptive and abusive acts and practices, as well as the states’ consumer protection laws.