Just a few months ago, President Obama took executive action that protects millions of undocumented immigrants from immediate deportation in the United States. This comes as a huge relief to countless individuals and families living throughout Southern California who wish to establish themselves legally within the country.
Unfortunately, just as the rules have made it easier for many to secure their status as United States citizens, it has become just as easy for con-men and criminals of every shade to prey on this desire for a new life. While such crooks take on a variety of names and aliases, they are most commonly known as notaries – or notary agents. And if you are an immigrant looking for assistance of any kind, not just citizenship, beware – these notarios do not have your best interests in mind. Unfortunately there are others called “immigration consults” and even some attorneys with no immigration expertise who will try to cash in on these reforms.
Generally speaking, when it comes to immigration and legal planning, if the assistance sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While President Obama has certainly helped ease the pressure off many people looking to become legal residents, it is still a complex process that requires a knowledgeable immigration attorney to properly see it through. This means, anyone promising you quick results and asking for cash up-front should not be trusted. Notarios prey not only on a family’s hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow, but also on the fervent desperation for escape, felt each and every day.
To protect yourself and your loved ones, The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) suggests some of the following basic tips:
- Beware of any individual or institution that claims to have the inside track on a new or previously unknown loophole in the law.
- Do not pay an immigration “broker” or someone to find you a qualified lawyer.
- Do not trust anyone who cannot back up their qualifications with a proper license and supplemental documentation.
- Do not sign anything you are unsure of, do not understand or believe to be suspicious.
- Bring another family member with you or someone who can help translate, if possible.
- Get receipts for everything – all documentation submitted and fees paid.
If you believe you have been taken advantage of by a notario or have a family member you believe is being ill-advised by someone posing as an immigration “expert,” there are a number of federal and state resources set up to assist you, such as the Office of Immigrant Assistance of the California Department of Justice, which can be reached at (888) 587-0557 or by filing a complaint with the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs. Contact one of them immediately, as notarios can fold-up shop and move on before anyone can prosecute them.
Additionally, if you wish to speak with an immigration lawyer who has the qualifications and experience to help you with your immigration goals, call attorney Scott McVarish today for more information.