AG gets Spanish reports
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 17, 2004
Yvonne Wingett

Businesses offering immigration-related services topped the list of complaints to the state Attorney General's Office by Spanish-speaking residents.

The office, for the first time, separated complaints written in Spanish from the general consumer complaints. All told the complaints numbered at about 5,000.

More than 400 Spanish-language complaints poured into Attorney General Terry Goddard's office during the first five months of 2004 with immigration services, used car sales and mail-order products topping the list.

"Immigration complaints generally have to do with people who offer to help them legalize their status," and then don't, said Cecilia D. Esquer, chief counsel for the public advocacy division of the Attorney General's Office.

"They say they can help them complete the forms and get through the immigration process," and then don't, she added.

Goddard's office oversees consumer protection issues in Arizona.

Consumers also complained that they were sold cars that didn't run, that repaired roofs leaked and that interest rates or monthly payments were higher than agreed upon, officials said.

"In Mexico, there seems to be a very big mistrust of institutions," said Harry Garewal, president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "When they come here to the United States, there tends to be less hesitancy to trust because they feel they're being protected with the laws here."

Similar complaints made the Spanish-language list and general public list including cellphone and long-distance services.

The Attorney General's Office will use the list to determine fraud trends, said Andrea Esquer, the attorney general's press secretary.

"It's important for us to understand where the minority communities are being targeted," she said.

Reach the reporter at or (602) 444-4712.