Press Conference Call: At 10:45 am, Reps. Deutch and Foster to Announce Introduction of Protecting Immigrants from Legal Exploitation Act
Today, Thursday, March 19 at 10:45 am, Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-21) and Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) will hold a press conference call announcing the reintroduction of the Protecting Immigrants from Legal Exploitation Act. The legislation aims to shield immigrants from the threat of "notario fraud" by penalizing fake attorneys who peddle fraudulent and unethical legal services.
For call-in information and to RSVP, click here to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A copy of the legislation is available here.
In many Latin American countries, “notario” or “notario público” refers to state-appointed lawyers, whose qualifications are equal to or may even exceed those of an attorney. In the United States, a notary public only has the authority to witness and certify legal documents. The linguistic discrepancy can expose many—especially recent immigrants of Latin American countries—to the risk of fraudulent legal services. Unethical notarios may charge a significant amount of money for help they never provide. Often, victims permanently lose opportunities to pursue legal status because a notario has damaged their case. This problem has become more prevalent in recent years, as many DREAMers begin to file for the DACA program."With the implementation of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration at hand, it is critical that we work to combat notario fraud,” said Foster. “This legislation will help protect immigrants from exploitation from fraudulent ‘notarios’ who are taking advantage of our broken immigration system. Not only do ‘notarios’ exploit immigrants for money, but their false services can, and many times have, resulted in well-meaning immigrants being deported because they didn’t receive accurate information on the immigration process. We must do more to stop these predators who are exploiting immigrants attempting to play by the rules.”
"Our broken immigration system has invited scam artists to take advantage of immigrants who are trying to navigate our complex legal system," said Congressman Deutch. "This legislation will go after fake attorneys who pose as 'notarios,' charge money for fraudulent legal services, and leave immigrants and their families to deal with the consequences. I am pleased to join my friend Congressman Bill Foster to introduce this legislation, which will crack down on a growing legal crisis facing our country."
The legislation also provides grant funding to disseminate information on avoiding fraudulent legal services and support non-profits that provide legal services to immigrants. A 2013 report from Georgetown Law School’s Community Justice Project reported that as high as 80% of non-citizens have unmet legal needs.