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Foster Introduces Legislation to Crack Down on “Notario” Fraud

May 1, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced H.R. 2430, the Protecting Immigrants from Legal Exploitation Act. The legislation would create penalties for those who provide fraudulent immigration legal services, allow immigrants who are victims of fraud to have their cases reconsidered under certain circumstances, and create grant programs to educate immigrants on how to avoid legal service fraud and to assist qualified non-profit organizations in providing immigrants with legal services.

Currently, there are no federal penalties for fraudulent legal services and defrauding aliens. In many Latin American countries “notario” or “notario público” refers to state-appointed lawyers. However, in the United States, a notary only has the authority to witness and certify legal documents. This linguistic discrepancy can expose many recent immigrants, particularly those from Latin American countries, to the risk of fraudulent immigration legal services.

“It’s an unfortunate reality that there are people who exploit and defraud immigrants when they seek legal services,” Foster said. “Not only do ‘notarios’ exploit immigrants for money, but their false services can result in well-meaning immigrants being deported and unable to return legally. We must act to stop these predators from exploiting vulnerable immigrants who are trying to play by the rules of our immigration system.”

“Fraud schemes targeting immigrants with fake legal services is a problem around the country, including in Florida,” Congressman Deutch said. “As a particularly vulnerable community, these scams can be significantly costly and even create new legal challenges for them. This bill offers an important protection for immigrants against fraud schemes by imposing a punishment for offering fraudulent immigrant legal services.”

A copy of the legislation is available here.