An Illinois congressman is introducing legislation to crack down on notarios who defraud immigration applicants. U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Naperville) says immigrants who may be eligible for legal status often end up in trouble when they rely on notarios, whose services are supposed to be limited to helping with forms and providing translation, but who end up providing unauthorized legal advice that’s either incompetent or fraudulent.
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“Not only do these notarios take their money, but their fraudulent or incompetent services have, on many occasions, led to immigrants who might have been eligible for legal status being deported,” Foster said. He says in many cases, the immigrants who seek the help of notarios don’t realize they’re not dealing with someone who’s a lawyer. In many Latin American countries, a notario publico is a state-appointed lawyer who is fully qualified, whereas a notary public in Illinois doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the practice of law.
Foster’s bill would increase the fines against those who act like lawyers in immigration cases but aren’t, and would give their clients an opportunity to withdraw and re-file their petitions.