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Not Against The Law To Aid Immigrants, Per Federal Judge.

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Archive: Jan 2016

Not Against The Law To Aid Immigrants, Per Federal Judge.

Article 16-01

¡No Se Deje!

Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss went to Arizona’s desert to provide water, food and medical assistance to immigrants in need. Both are members of “Samaritans” and of the “No More deaths” Organization.  These organizations are dedicated to reducing the number of tragic deaths of immigrants at the border due to a lack of basic resources.  Sellz and Strauss found five immigrants and determined that two of them were in serious condition suffering from dehydration. Their doctors gave instructions to immediately take the immigrants to the hospital.


On their way to the hospital, United States Immigration and Naturalization Service officials arrested Sellz and Strauss.  The Attorney General filed criminal charges against them for their activities in assisting immigrants.  Sellz and Strauss pled “not guilty”. Strauss openly stated “we have not committed any crime”.


Federal judge Raner Collins decided the criminal case in favor of the defendants.  The charges were completely dismissed and Sellz and Strauss were released, confident that they can legally continue their generous work without legal restrictions.  The judge ruled that the group “Samaritans” is in fact a humanitarian organization, confirming the legal argument of attorney Bill Walker who joined Stanley Feldman to defend the aid volunteers pro bono.


This federal judgment also indicates that “No More Deaths” is not dedicated to helping immigrants enter the country illegally.  This is extremely important because many people who wish to help immigrants in need decline to do so fearing that it is against the law. Attorney Walker said “this legal decision is a huge victory for everyone wanting to stop unnecessary deaths in the desert.”    Samaritans group founder, Reverend John Fife, stated that the judge’s decision confirmed the group’s position that “providing humanitarian aid is never against the law”.  Now, everyone can do what their hearts feel and provide humanitarian assistance without fear to legal consequences or punishments.


It should be noted that neither, federal judge Raner Collins, defense Counsels Bill Walker and Stanley Feldman, nor activists Sellz and Strauss are Latinos. Reverend John Fife, Samaritans group founder is not Latino either.  There is a growing social, political, and humanitarian movement to protect immigrants.  This movement promotes immigration amnesty, driver licenses, education and health care for all human beings regardless of their immigration status.  Many people involved in this movement are not Latinos.  It is not about nationalism, it is about doing what is right and proper regarding humanitarian aid.


The Sellz and Strauss case is important because, as a legal principle, it establishes that saving the lives of those who have entered the country undocumented or uninspected is still allowed. It is sad indeed, that even today in the United States, it was necessary to litigate in a criminal court for more than a year to know this. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®



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Article 15-40

¡No Se Deje!

Not Knowing Your Rights Can Be Costly

State and Federal agencies have reported an increase in complaints about abusive debt collection tactics. There are many Federal and California laws to protect debtors from improper and unlawful collection practices. Legal and financial experts believe that the increase in abusive debt collection activity could be the result of the extremely weak and troubled economic conditions in the country.

Aggressive bill collectors often take advantage of people that do not know the law or their rights. They deliberately mislead them into believing that they owe money when they do not. One of the most common and most disgraceful scams is to try to get relatives of recently deceased people to pay their dead relative’s debts. People that pass away frequently leave unpaid bills including credit cards, personal loans, medical bills or department store bills.

In states like California that have community property laws, surviving spouses sometimes do have a legal obligation to pay joint bills. But this does not apply to other relatives or friends. Nonetheless, unscrupulous bill collectors sometimes tell other relatives, and even unrelated cotenants, that they have to pay the bills of the deceased. Close relatives such as adult children, siblings and cotenants often feel morally obligated to pay the claimed debt as a symbol of respect for the decedent. This is precisely why these collection methods are UNSCRUPULOUS. The real moral obligation is to respect the privacy and legal rights of grieving relatives and not exploit their emotional vulnerability by pressuring them to pay a debt that they have no legal obligation to pay.

Unless you have also signed a contract or credit card agreement or other agreement to pay a debt, YOU DO NOT HAVE A LEGAL OBLIGATION TO PAY the bills of a deceased friend, cotenant or relative (except for a spouse in some circumstances). In fact, even if you have received money from the decedent under a will, you have no obligation to pay his debts. And, even if you received money as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy for the death, you do not have to pay the decedent’s bills.

Abusive bill collectors typically contact their victims by telephone so that there will not be a record of their false statements and threats. If you are told by a bill collector that you must pay the debts of someone that died, insist that they send their claim to you in writing. They will usually refuse to do so. If they do send it, always consult with an attorney to discuss your rights. The law does allow victims of illegal collection practices to sue for money. And the law can even obligate collectors that violate collection laws to pay your attorneys fees. Know your rights and assert them with confidence. When in doubt consult an attorney before you agree to pay anything. Even legitimate debts can sometimes be legally discharged or otherwise avoided. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

Jess J. Araujo, Esq.

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Artículo 15-40

¡No Se Deje! ®

Desconocer Sus Derechos Puede Ser Costoso

Agencias Federales y Estatales han reportado un incremento en las quejas por las tácticas abusivas de cobro.  Existen muchas leyes Federales y de California para proteger a los deudores de las prácticas de cobro ilegales e impropias.  Expertos legales y financieros creen que el incremento en la actividad abusiva en el cobro de deudas podría resultar de las condiciones económicas extremadamente débiles y problemáticas del país.

Frecuentemente los agresivos cobradores de deudas sacan ventaja de las personas que no conocen la ley o sus derechos. Particularmente se enfocan en los inmigrantes quienes al no estar enterados de las leyes americanas prefieren evitar conflictos al creer que no están en condiciones de oponerse a estas prácticas. Deliberadamente los hacen creer con engaños y mentiras que deben dinero cuando no es cierto.  Una de las estafas más comunes y descaradas  es convencer a los familiares de personas recién fallecidas a pagar las deudas de sus familiares muertos.  Muy seguido las personas que fallecen dejan deudas sin pagar incluyendo tarjetas de crédito, préstamos personales, deudas médicas o deudas en almacenes.

En estados como California que tienen leyes de bienes compartidos, los cónyuges sobrevivientes algunas veces sí tienen obligación legal de pagar las deudas mancomunadas.  Pero esto no aplica a otros familiares o amigos.  Sin embargo, inescrupulosos cobradores de deudas algunas veces les dicen a otros familiares, y aún a cohabitantes sin ninguna relación, que deben de pagar las deudas del fallecido.  Familiares cercanos como hijos adultos, hermanos y cohabitantes con frecuencia se siente moralmente obligados a pagar la deuda reclamada como símbolo de respeto hacia el fallecido.  Precisamente es por esto que esos métodos son INESCRUPULOSOS.  La verdadera obligación moral es respetar la privacidad y los derechos legales de los familiares dolientes y no sacar provecho de su vulnerabilidad emocional presionándolos a pagar deudas que no tienen obligación legal de hacerlo.

A menos que usted haya firmado un contrato o un acuerdo de tarjeta de crédito u otro convenio para pagar una deuda, USTED NO TIENE OBLIGACION LEGAL DE PAGAR la deuda de un amigo, cohabitante o familiar fallecido (excepto por un cónyuge en ciertas circunstancias).  De hecho, aún si usted ha recibido dinero por medio de un testamento de una persona fallecida, usted no tiene obligación de pagar las deudas de ésta.  Y, aún si usted ha recibido dinero como beneficiario de una póliza de seguro de vida por el fallecimiento, usted no tiene que pagar las deudas del fallecido.

Los cobradores abusivos de deudas típicamente contactan a sus víctimas por teléfono, de esa manera no quedará registro de sus falsas declaraciones y amenazas.  Si un cobrador de deudas le dice que usted debe pagar las deudas de alguien que murió, no se comprometa e insista en que le envíen el reclamo por escrito.  Usualmente rehusarán hacerlo.  Si se lo envían, siempre consulte con un abogado para hablar de sus derechos.  La ley sí permite que las víctimas de prácticas de cobros ilegales demanden por dinero.  Y la ley hasta puede obligar a los cobradores que violan las leyes de cobro a que paguen los gastos de los abogados de las víctimas.   Conozca sus derechos y hágalos valer con seguridad.  Cuando tenga preguntas o dudas consulte con un abogado antes de aceptar pagar algo.  Aún las deudas legítimas algunas veces pueden ser liquidadas o evitadas legalmente.


Jess J. Araujo, Abogado

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