Notarios and Immigration Fraud

In a bold move this past fall, President Obama took executive action to help undocumented immigrants living both in the United States and across our border become legal citizens. Needless to say, this has created a huge opportunity for thousands of Texas families to climb out from underneath the shadow of deportation, desertion or even death, and finally establish their right to live in the U.S.

Sadly, this kind of radical policy shift does not come without its growing pains. Con-men and criminals, both here and abroad, seize upon this opportunity for a new life and attempt to steal it from the hopeful few. These thieves are known by many names, but are generally referred to as notarios – or notary agents. They make their money by offering false promises and guaranteed citizenship, in exchange for an unsuspecting immigrant’s money, property and potentially, their life.

In general, when it comes to legally immigrating to the United States, if the process sounds too good, or too expensive, to be true it probably is. Undoubtedly, the President’s most recent actions have made it much easier to apply and gain acceptance; but not that easy. This means, if you or a family members are offered legal guidance that requires cash up front and guarantees immediate results, with very little work on your end, you should probably walk the other way.

Notarios prey on hope and desperation. Their goal is to find your emotional weak spot and lean on it. Don’t let them. If you follow the following tips, and speak with an experienced immigration attorney, you will go a long way in preserving your dream:

  • Beware of anyone that requires money (cash, check or otherwise) to find you a qualified attorney or immigration “broker.” This is illegal.
  • Do not trust anyone that cannot back up their claims with proper certification or a license.
  • 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.
  • Make sure you receive documentation and receipts for every transaction.

If you have reason to believe a notario or other so-called immigration “agent” has taken advantage of your family, there are a number of state and federal agencies set up to assist you. And for genuine legal advice for yourself, or a loved one, speak with a dedicated Austin immigration attorney today.

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