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By jayscut5 on Oct 25, 2013 02:39 AM
Congress May Go After Con Artists Who Offer Help In Immigration Cases

But too often, the immigrants who turn to http://www.falconsofficialproshop.com/Black+Jonathan+Babineaux+Jersey these crooked lawyers or con artists who overstate their ability to do immigration work end up with nothing but more problems, and the scammers end up with their money.

Now, Congress is considering expanding protections for immigrants who might fall victim to these scammers. in both chambers are meant to address a potential spike in legal fraud against immigrants if Congress approves pathways to citizenship under comprehensive immigration reform. Lawmakers fear more immigrants could be approached by unqualified individuals who overcharge and sometimes offer no services.

"This is a foreseeable problem," said Rep. Bill Foster, DIllinois, who introduced a House bill that calls for a fine and up to 10 to 15 years in federal prison for fraudulently offering immigration legal services.

Take Tatiana Jimenez, for example.

Jimenez left her native Guatemala seven years ago to escape an abusive relationship and begin a new life in America. With little knowledge of the system, she turned to an unscrupulous lawyer who had her sign a contract to pay $2,800 and charged her hundreds of dollars for immigration documents the federal government provides for free.

Several months later after a series of canceled appointments from her lawyer Jimenez sought help from an immigrant advocacy group that reviewed the matter and confirmed her suspicions: She had been duped. She discovered a frontdesk receptionist had been left in charge of her paperwork and little if any progress had been made on her case.

"They assured me this wasn't the way things are, that I wasn't filling out the right documents and the amount of money (I paid) wasn't right, either," Jimenez said, breaking down in tears. The DOJ would not address whether Foster's legislation as well as a related Senateapproved bill would spur it to pursue more cases many of which don't involve more than a few hundred dollars. They say these nonlawyers who attempt to handle complex cases can consequently ruin the singular opportunity an immigrant has for immigration benefits, and in worst cases can get their clients deported.

"Every time we have (debates) on immigration reform we have those individuals who try to prey on the disadvantaged," said Doug Stump, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Some states go after the lawyers using consumer laws.

The Federal Trade Commission started keeping track of such complaints in 2006 and gradually saw an increase of annual cases reported by private consumers and the Department of Justice. The FTC's database has nearly 3,000 complaints but experts and federal officials agree the scope of the problem is much bigger.

"If I could have one thing, it would be for people to complain," he said. "It's one of the http://www.falconsofficialproshop.com most important things they can do to help stop this kind of fraud."

Since 2002, the Texas attorney general's office has used state consumer laws to shut down more than 75 businesses that unlawfully provided immigration services. Other border states such as California, Arizona and New Mexico have similar laws that allow them to crack down.

One of their targets was Elias Bermudez, a tax preparer who has been ordered at least twice to stop offering immigration services to clients because he was not certified to do so.

In 2009 a county judge in Arizona ordered him to halt the practice after clients alleged Nike Jonathan Babineaux Jersey they paid thousands of dollars for services they never received.

Bermudez defended the services he provided his clients and said the proposal to expand the federal government's enforcement role would be a "disservice" to the immigrant community.

"There are a lot of people out there who can do good (immigration) work and are able to do it at a very reasonable price," he said. "And do you think the community is against saving money?"

Besides criminalizing notario fraud, Foster's bill would allow immigrants who were deported because of unscrupulous lawyers to refile their immigration cases. Citizenship and Immigration Services to create grants for reputable organizations to provide legal services to immigrants.

A section within the Senate's immigration bill, which passed in June, would require anyone assisting an immigrant with legal documents to identify themselves on the paperwork. attorney general to create more specific regulations to sue immigration service providers.

Some states such as Arizona and Texas say they have no objection to having the federal government offer more help in a crackdown on notario fraud. But it remains unclear how relevant the proposal will be after lawmakers return this month to Washington.

Both chambers appear at odds over specific immigration reform proposals, including a Senateapproved bill that would offer a 13year path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. A majority of House Republicans oppose a pathway to citizenship. Congress also faces looming deadlines on the debt ceiling and spending bills to keep the government running.

Meanwhile, nonprofit groups across the country that help immigrants find legal help are paying close attention to the debate. They say the problem of notario fraud is made worse because they don't have the resources to serve everyone. And those who are turned away because they don't qualify for certain programs often find notarios willing to offer promises they can't keep.

"Sometimes they don't like what they hear from (immigration lawyers) so they turn to someone who tells them what they want to hear," said Manuel Robles, a coordinator with Catholic Charities of Dallas, which has immigration Jonathan Babineaux Jersey Ebay attorneys who help with social services. "I tell people who come here that they have to be honest because we can't help them if they lie about their status."

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