Washington notario bill combats immigration fraud
Saturday, February 5, 2011
OLYMPIA (AP) -- In 2003, 150 immigrants were deported after following poor legal advice from a Wenatchee woman who advertised herself as a lawyer. Last year, three immigration assistants agreed to pay thousands of dollars in damages sustained by consumers who followed their bad advice.
This year, lawmakers have introduced legislation that would protect immigrants from falling victim to similar crimes.
High demand for affordable legal immigration advice, coupled with a lack of disciplinary oversight, has allowed for the proliferation of unauthorized legal services for immigrants -- sometimes resulting in deportation for those seeking a legal path to residency.
Attorney General Rob McKenna is working with lawmakers to target loopholes in current law that allow these legally-questionable services performed by immigration assistants -- known as "notarios" in Spanish -- to exist.