SARASOTA, Fla., Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Florida's attorney general forced the closure of an organization assisting illegal immigrants in the state seeking refugee status in Canada.
Attorney General Bill McCollum said the Jerusalem Haitian Community Center in Naples must close and return thousands of dollars in fees from those it told would receive legal status in Canada, The New York Times reported Saturday.
About 450 people fled to Canada from Florida with the help of the organization after alleging they were targets of American immigration officials.
Canadian officials said they faced financial burdens on social services if the migrations continued. Canadian refugee agencies said chances of achieving asylum status there were quite low as immigrants need to prove persecution on racial, political or religious grounds.
"While the state attorney general's office cannot enforce federal immigration law in this case, my office can investigate potentially misleading or deceptive practices, and I believe this organization was engaging in questionable practices," McCollum said in the Times.
McCollum agreed with the center's founder, Jacques Sinjuste, to settle on returning nearly $17,000 in fees collected by asylum seekers. Sinjuste said he planned to close the immigration unit of the center, but would continue to operate other social services.