Clients Seeking Refund from Valley Immigration Lawyer
WESLACO – Clients of an immigration attorney are trying to recover the thousands of dollars owed to them for their cases.
Elvira Trevino, owner of Trevino’s Transport in Edinburg, said she decided to hire a driver from Mexico after having trouble finding dependable drivers.
"We wanted to get somebody that we knew wanted to work; that we knew we can trust,” she said.
Trevino hired immigration lawyer Francisco Tipton. Tipton was supposed help the Trevino family business get a Treaty NAFTA Visa or TN visa.
But Trevino said Tipton didn’t notify her the truck driver had not met the requirements.
"The last time I spoke to anybody from his staff, I was told we qualified for a full refund. We paid him $1,500 for a TN visa that apparently months later we were told we didn't qualify for,” she said.
Trevino said they’ve been trying to get a hold of Tipton for the last three weeks. She still has yet to receive a response and get her money back.
"That's actually my savings. That was in my savings. That’s money we put aside,” she said. "I’m mean, we work hard and right now the only one that's working is my husband. We had two in college and now one of our children has graduated, but I still have two more we need to provide.”
CHANNEL 5 NEWS went to the address Trevino provided. The building is up for lease. A note from Tipton, including a phone number, was placed on the window.
"I'm calling their office, you can't leave a message. It just tells you, the recording is telling you there on the other line,” said Trevino.
We called the number and got the same response. However, the note on the window provided another address nearby.
The other building was empty. Neighboring businesses told us many people come by looking for Tipton. We walked throughout a plaza and finally found Tipton’s office. But the office was also closed.
We met Yolanda Jerez, a Tipton client from Brownsville, at the office door.
“We went to see him, since he had his office in Brownsville, so he can help us with a document that immigration needs for the status of my son,” she told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.
Jerez said she paid his office more than $ 2,000.
“She told me they were going to send me a letter. That was two months ago. They haven't sent me anything,” she said.
On Wednesday, Jerez waited next at Tipton's office for three hours but was able to get a hold of Tipton’s receptionist again.
“(I) called them right now and she said she will let me know when I should come and get the money. At least part of the money they owed me.”
We were able to get a hold of Tipton on the phone, but he didn't want us to record his voice. He sent us the following statement, which reads in part:
"Due to unforeseen circumstances, we experienced some difficulties within the office. Those difficulties have since been resolved and we will continue to provide top notch legal representation for our clients.”
Jerez and Trevino said they just want answers.
"We don't want to tarnish whatever he might have accomplished throughout his career. But honestly, I'm sure I'm not the only one. I’m sure there are other people out there wanting for an explanation,” said Trevino.
Immigration attorney Cynthia Renteria is a member of the Texas State Bar. She said a client can file a grievance with the state bar.
The state bar will investigate the complaint to see if any misconduct occurred. The attorney will then have to defend his or herself against any accusations.
A TN visa is an employment-based "non-immigrant" visa available to citizens of Canada or Mexico, according to Renteria.
"They have to have an offer of employment from the United States, and with their degrees from either Canada or Mexico or anything that's equivalent. For the most part as a bachelor's degree, they can come into the United States and work," she explained.
Tipton said any clients with concerns can contact his offices during normal business hours at (956)-639-0137.