The Fight against Notarios and Other Fraudulent Practices
San Diego-based immigration attorney Christopher Stender is a longtime member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and a former vice president of the Arizona chapter of the organization. In addition to his work as an immigration attorney, Christopher Stender is a member of the AILA Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, in which role he advises the association on strategies to deal with the growing problem of persons fraudulently claiming to be immigration lawyers taking advantage of vulnerable immigrant communities. These individuals often refer to themselves as “Notarios.”
In order to combat this fraud, AILA collaborated with the American Bar Association to create http://www.stopnotariofraud.org, a website that aims to protect new immigrants by providing a comprehensive source of information. The site outlines ways in which individuals might determine whether their representative is fraudulent and emphasizes the right to ask for accreditation. Secondly, the site informs new immigrants of the potential consequences of representation by an unqualified person. These include being deported and permanently banned from the United States. Furthermore, the website directs people to report fraud to the relevant authorities.
In addition to http://www.stopnotariofraud.org, AILA is collaborating with the American Bar Association to provide pro bono legal assistance to the victims of notarios. This program hopes to reverse some of the damage caused by notarios and ensure an end to the damaging and criminal practice of defrauding new immigrants.