Tuesday, August 12, 2008
(Some) Notarios Taking Advantage of Vulnerable Immigrants
A news story from Florida offers the latest on a lonstanding problem in the immigrant community. Attorneys say hundreds of undocumented immigrants are victims of notarios (notaries) who engage in the unlicensed practice of law and filing immigration-related documentation on their behalf — work a notary is not authorized to do. Notarios, or notaries, have broad legal powers in Latin America, and immigrants often assume their role is similar here. But in the U.S., notaries are limited to taking oaths, authenticating certain documents and acting largely as a typing service. Officials say that hasn't stopped many notaries from advertising legal services in heavily immigrant neighborhoods.
To make matters worse, some notarios file frivolous papers and affirmatively damage the immigration case of the immigrants. This has been a big problem in the Ninth Circuit.
Joe, here in Florida the bar does a horrible job of "protecting its turf." Rarely does the state prosecute people for practicing law without a license. I have heard the same is true in many, if not most, other states. And I don't think the feds are any better at going after the unlicensed practice of immigration law.
Posted by: Peter | Aug 12, 2008 8:21:47 AM
Professor Johnson, implementing his new censorship, oops, I mean "editorial," policy, still shows his ideological bias.
For "vulnerable" read "illegal" immigrants.
Posted by: Carlos Miranda-Fuentes | Aug 12, 2008 8:53:10 AM
Notarios are a huge problem here in California. They prey upon the vulnerable, (Note to Carlos - God forbid if you ever have a friend or relative that has a status problem, you would be wise not to send them to a Notario). They land people in proceedings that would otherwise be much better off had they not followed the Notarios advise. For instance, they often file asylum claims for Mexicans - not a good plan for success. Often they charge clients thousands of dollars to file their papers, then dissappear. While it is true that many of the vulnerable are illegal, the words are not interchangible. Many "illegals" can adjust their status legally, if they know the law and their rights. While, on the other hand, the vulnerable often squander their rights out of ignorance of the law, fear, and/or desperation. There are, in fairness, many notarios that do know the laws very well, but as they are unable to sign documents and be responsible for their content or represent their clients in court, and since they often charge as much or even more than attorneys do for the services that they provide, the undocumented would be well advised to use a qualified immigration attorney to handle their cases.
Posted by: Robert Gittelson | Aug 12, 2008 5:41:22 PM
Carlos, regardless of what you may think of undocumented people, I would hope that you don't want unscrupulous people like notarios preying on and hurting people. Thats just simple human decency. Unless, of course, the notion of "illegal" completely dehumanizes undocumented immigrants in your eyes. If so, I feel bad for you and the hatred in your heart.
Posted by: Dream Act Knight | Aug 14, 2008 5:17:46 PM
Worth mentioning that many states have laws prohibiting notaries from using the Spanish title "notario." Texas is one example. The bar protects its turf well...
Posted by: Joe Jones | Aug 12, 2008 5:53:47 AM