Immigration Section
April 2014 Issue
Content is updated daily

Immigrant Communities Warn Against Notario Fraud Following Deferred Action Ruling

The recent deferred action ruling by the Department of Homeland Security is likely to open new floodgates for thousands of immigrants to apply for deportation reprieves and job eligibility, which has many communities bracing for a potential spike in immigration assistance fraud. Korean civil rights groups have joined other immigrant communities in issuing warnings to their undocumented youth to be aware of immigration assistance scams.

The new deferred action policy offers a 2-year reprieve from deportation to immigrants who meet certain criteria. In response to the new laws, Asian American civil rights groups have issued warnings to their communities to be particularly wary of those posing as “Notarios,” and offering fee-based assistance and legal guidance.

“We have seen many examples of immigrant communities being defrauded by unscrupulous individuals who see this as an opportunity to cash in,” said Hyeon-Ju Rho, executive director of the Asian Law Caucus. “The best way to keep informed on the developments of deferred action is to contact trusted community-based organizations and immigration advocates who are providing up-to-date information free of charge.”

While Notario schemes have been more often considered an issue for Hispanic communities due to the misleading Spanish translation, immigration assistance scams target all immigrant communities. In an effort to combat such fraud, New York and other states have proposed strict regulations on how Notaries can advertise their services and have increased penalties for those who violate the laws.

Groups such as the Asian American Center for Advancing Justiceare joining forces with community-based organizations and immigrant advocacy groups to help individuals in seeking reliable resources. They are also advising those who may be potentially eligible for deferred action to begin collecting documents that may be used in the application process, such as birth certificates, school records, passports, medical records, and financial documents.

Members of the Korean immigrant community, and any individuals who feel that they have been victims of unauthorized practice of law, should contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Additionally, the USCIS has published a web page containing tips on filing forms, reporting scams, and finding accredited legal services.

While Notaries working with immigration clients must remain impartial and never offer advice, they can provide the FTC help line number and educate clients on the difference between U.S. Notaries and Notarios.

Key Points:

  • Deferred Action laws could lead to rise in immigration assistance fraud.
  • Korean civil rights groups warn community youth against those posing as Notarios and offering fraudulent assistance.
  • States are strengthening their efforts to combat an expected rise in immigration assistance scams resulting from the new policies.
  • Victims of fraud should report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

Additional Resources:

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