Washington State “notarios” bill combats those who defraud immigrants

February 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

In 2003, 150 immigrants were deported after following poor legal advice from a Wenatchee woman who advertised herself as a lawyer. In 2009, the state AG’s office issued 11 civil investigative demands to people suspected of unlawfully providing immigration legal services. In 2010, 3 immigration assistants agreed to pay thousands of dollars in damages sustained by consumers who followed their bad advice. Now lawmakers have introduced legislation that would protect immigrants from falling victim to similar crimes. High demand for affordable legal immigration advice, coupled with a lack of disciplinary oversight, have allowed for the proliferation of unauthorized legal services for immigrants – sometimes resulting in deportation for those seeking a legal path to residency, according to AG Rob McKenna, who is working with lawmakers to target loopholes in current law that allow these legally questionable services performed by some immigration assistants – known as “notarios” in Spanish – to exist. It’s an issue that may fly under the radar outside the Latino immigrant community, but it’s one that’s known to anyone trying to navigate the cumbersome laws of the immigration system. “A lot of people who apply for immigration benefits with an attorney have a lawful claim,” said Assistant AG Pedro Bernal “However, if you don’t follow the correct steps, or provide the correct information, you can be deported.” Opponents of the bills argue that the measure will limit the availability of affordable legal counsel for immigrants seeking citizenship benefits. Current law allows “immigration assistants” to translate immigration forms for immigrants qualified for citizenship. But McKenna says ill-intentioned immigration assistants take advantage of a translation quirk that confuses “notarios” – a Spanish word that translates to “lawyers” – with “notary publics” who are only authorized to verify signatures. Often, immigration assistants give misguided advice that wind up getting their clients deported. “They’re practicing law without a license. It’s a crime.” Bernal said. (AP)

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You are currently reading Washington State “notarios” bill combats those who defraud immigrants at Harlan York and Associates Immigration Lawyer Team 973.642.1111.

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