Immigration Center: Business that allegedly faked fed link hit with $2.5 million judgment

As Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt noted yesterday in support of a proclamation demanding comprehensive immigration reform, "I think the two sides of this debate have demonized each other. The immigration-rights folks look at the people who pursued the Arizona measure as being motivated by racism and anti-immigrant sentiment, and the people on the other side see immigration-rights folks as wanting to have open borders and amnesty."

As for the immigrants themselves, they're among society's most vulnerable members, with plenty of folks lining up to take advantage of them in a myriad of ways.

Exhibit A is the alleged business model of the Immigration Center, a Colorado Springs business just ordered by an El Paso County court to pay a $2.5 million judgment.

Among other things, the complaint against the Immigration Center -- read it here -- accuses the operation, owned and operated by Charles Doucette, Deborah Stilson and Alfred Boyce, with charging immigrants big bucks for forms available from government offices for free.

Get more information from the order against the Immigration Center, as well as a separate order focusing on Doucette, Stilson and Boyce; they'll have to pony up $85,000 in fines. More details are also available in the release from the office of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, on view below:

Attorney General announces $2.5 million judgment against Colorado Springs immigration-services business

DENVER -- Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that an El Paso County District Court has issued orders barring a Colorado Springs business, the Immigration Center, and its owners and operators, Charles Doucette, Deborah Stilson and Alfred Boyce, from defrauding consumers in search of assistance in obtaining or completing federal immigration forms.

The Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Doucette and the Immigration Center in August 2009 and alleged that the business had engaged in deceptive trade practices, including posing as or claiming an affiliation with the federal government.

According to the complaint, Doucette's business advertised itself as being able to help immigrants obtain and complete various immigration forms in exchange for fees ranging from $300 to $700. The Immigration Center's non-refundable fees were identical to the fee the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would charge for filing the forms, which were available free of charge from the federal government. The Immigration Center also did not provide consumers with assistance from attorneys or anyone with expertise in immigration law.

Under the court's order against the Immigration Center, the business will be barred from engaging in immigration-assistance services and will be required to pay the state a total of $2.5 million in restitution and civil penalties.

The court also approved a settlement between the state and Doucette. Under the settlement Doucette and Stilson will pay $85,000 in fines and restitution and will not be allowed to engage in the business of selling government forms or assistance with those forms. Doucette and Stilson also will be required to desist any marketing associated with any immigration-assistance business, including taking down any Web sites associated with their businesses.

The Immigration Center also did business under the names U.S. Immigration Center, ImmigrationHelpLine.org, U.S. Government Help Line, Liberty Legal Services, Maydene Media, Immigration Forms & Services, and Immigration Forms & Documents.

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