Protecting Immigrants from Fake Attorneys

The Immigration Law field is one of the most abused areas of law by scam artists, trying to pray on innocent Immigrants. We see such victims all the time.

Immigration officials are teaming up with federal and state prosecutors, the Federal Trade Commission, lawyers’ groups and immigrant advocate organizations in a new nationwide effort to combat an epidemic of schemes by people posing as immigration lawyers.

The campaign, which will begin in Washington soon, is an effort by the Obama administration to step up one form of assistance to immigrant communities, which have intensified their criticism of President Obama as they have faced a record pace of deportations in the last two years.

Officials say this is the first time a crackdown on fake immigration lawyers has been coordinated broadly among federal and state agencies and local immigrant aid organizations. Federal appeals courts in New York, California and other regions with major immigrant populations have been deluged with cases of immigrants who sought legal status through the courts, but ended up in labyrinths leading to deportation because of incompetent or fraudulent lawyers.

A more common and persistent problem involves notarios, a Spanish word referring to a type of accountant. Although notarios can perform legal functions in many Latin American countries, they have no authority to act as lawyers in the United States. Also, sometimes tax accountants in immigrant communities will offer immigration services they are not qualified to provide.

“Oftentimes, no documents have been filed for the immigrants, or they have been filed wrong and kicked back,” said Reid Trautz, director of the practice and professionalism center of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “It is a very good thing that a coalition of agencies is coordinating to take this on,” Mr. Trautz said.

He said the lawyers association would hold clinics to assist immigrant victims of fraudulent lawyers, and would provide training in immigration law for legitimate lawyers in other fields. We welcome this effort and hope to see more crackdown on those criminals.

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