Two businesses in Springdale are getting sued.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel claims GYS Investments and Sonia's Tax Services are advertising with deceit by offering help for illegal immigrants under a law that does not exist.
"We're here to help the Hispanic community, not to get them in trouble and not to say we're something that we're not.... We don't tell people what they qualify for and what they don't," said Sonia Urrutia, owner of Sonia's Tax Services.
The consumer-protection lawsuit accuses the businesses of offering to process applications for permanent residency under the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), which is not a federal law. In 2012, President Barack Obama signed an executive order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
"The Hispanic community didn't understand what the DACA was. They thought this act that got passed was part of the DREAM Act, so that's how they understood it and that's why we put out the sign... That doesn't mean that we were offering residency. The DREAM Act or the DACA, nothing that says anything about a permanent residency," said Urrutia.
Urrutia said the DREAM Act advertisements have already been taken down, but she is defending her practices and believes they are not breaking any laws.
"We translate and help the Hispanic community filling out forms... It's right for them to find somebody who can translate it for them, who can help them fill them out so they can be filled out correctly. A lot of people don't understand the forms and they don't want to risk it, so that's why they come to us."
The lawsuit states those seeking help should meet with an attorney or someone accredited by the Board of Immigration. Mistakes in the application process could lead to immigrants getting deported or facing criminal charges.
But after more than 30 years in the business, Urrutia said they are only trying to help the Hispanic community at a fraction of the cost.
"There is no way that we are going to compromise a person into having problems the government or with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)... We're here to help you, and that's all."
Urrutia said they have only helped about five people fill out applications for DACA and that they have not received any complaints. However, Assistant Attorney General Sarah Tacker said her department did receive complaints from folks in Northwest Arkansas, looked into the reports and then filed the lawsuits.
"If someone is seeking immigration assistance and they go to one of these businesses, they're not going to be able to get the assistance they're seeking... There's some large stakes for consumers if you seek information and application help from the wrong person."
The manager at GYS Investments is currently out of the state and did not want to comment before seeking legal advice.