Who is Vulnerable to Notario Fraud and What are Some Solutions

Notario Fraud pic

Notario Fraud
Image: americanbar.org

Christopher Stender is an immigration attorney with more than two decades of experience practicing immigration law. An active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), he served as the vice president of the organization’s Arizona chapter. Currently, Christopher Stender serves on the AILA Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. There, he develops strategies to combat the rising problem of so-called notarios, persons fraudulently claiming to be immigration attorneys.

Immigrants originating from Latin America are particularly vulnerable to notario fraud because in many Latin American countries, a notario has authority over a number of legal matters. In the United States, however, a notario is simply a notary public rather than a licensed and trained attorney. Notarios regularly defraud immigrants and noncitizens of thousands of dollars, promising documentation, work permits, and other immigration services that never materialize. Furthermore, using a ‘notario’ may result in a person permanently losing official documents and access to certain benefits. If they misfile their case as an asylum claim, they may trigger deportation proceedings.

Many states have taken actions to prevent notario fraud, requiring notaries to undergo background checks, place security bonds, and post disclaimers on their advertisements. Furthermore, notario fraud is a misdemeanor in many states and a felony in Arizona. And in Washington, D.C., payment for immigration services can only occur after the service has been rendered.


Padilla vs. Kentucky – Knowing the Full Consequences of a Plea Deal



Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project Image: firrp.org

Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project
Image: firrp.org

An experienced immigration attorney, Christopher Stender has experience practicing in New York, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Alongside 25 years of private practice, Christopher Stender has worked as an immigration attorney with nonprofits and charitable organizations aiming to provide representation to the most vulnerable. Among these organizations is the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project.

Among recent Supreme Court rulings regarding the rights of immigrants and noncitizens in the United States, Padilla vs. Kentucky stands out as a victory that had far-reaching impacts. Padilla, a commercial truck driver and legal U.S. resident of Honduran origin, was arrested in Kentucky and charged with trafficking marijuana. Advised by his attorney that he should not worry about a conviction affecting his immigration status, he took a plea deal and was subject to deportation proceedings.

Padilla appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that his attorney had a duty to inform him of the consequences of the plea under the Sixth Amendment. The court ruled in his favor, stating that attorneys are duty-bound to inform their clients of the risk of deportation whether the law is ambiguous or unambiguous and must provide advice regarding deportation.

For the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, this decision meant that they could move resources from their now defunct defending immigrants program, a program that trained immigration attorneys on the immigration consequences of crimes. This freed up greater funds for their pro bono and advocacy programs.

Medical Issues of Mothers and Children in Family Detention Facilities

Arizona Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Image: ailaaz.org

Arizona Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)
Image: ailaaz.org


An alumnus of Syracuse University College of Law, immigration attorney Christopher Stender has more than 20 years of legal experience in law firms with a presence in San Diego, California. Moreover, Christopher Stender maintains active membership with numerous professional organizations and previously served as a vice president with the Arizona Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

AILA was established in 1946 to support those who teach immigration law and serve those seeking permanent residence in the United States. One of the many immigration-related issues with which AILA concerns itself relates to family detention.

This term refers to the holding of individuals who are in the U.S. without proper certification, which includes a large number of women who have been abused and children who have fled dangerous circumstances in areas such as Guatemala, Honduras, and elsewhere throughout Central America.

Endangered people who are being held in detention centers face a myriad of potential consequences, including the manifestation and substandard treatment of disease, including mental disorders. The AILA website provides many documents on such matters, including a complaint recently filed with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties by an organization dedicated to ending family detention. The document underscores the dangers associated with placing traumatized individuals in such facilities, which resemble jails and generally fail to provide the medical resources that such individuals require.

Successful Deportation Defense in San Francisco Federal Appeals Court

Having provided free legal services to those without means, Christopher Stender is a respected immigration attorney with experience spanning California and Arizona. As an immigration attorney, Christopher Stender has provided vital support to people fighting deportation proceedings who seek to stay in the United States.

In 2010, Mr. Stender achieved a San Francisco federal appeals court decision blocking the deportation of a Nigerian man was convicted of selling marijuana in Arizona in 2002. Completing a three-year sentence, Lawrence Eneh was set to be deported.

The plaintiff had contracted AIDS through a contaminated needle while in Minnesota and employed at a health center. This condition was pivotal to his defense, as it was argued that Nigeria has a policy of locking up those with AIDS and denying them needed anti-viral medications. In rendering its 3-0 decision, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals noted that deportation to Nigeria, where medications would be withheld, was tantamount to torture.

Annual AILA Citizenship Day Event Assists Immigrants in Naturalization

AILA Citizenship Day pic

AILA Citizenship Day
Image: aila.org

With extensive experience as a Southern California immigration attorney, Christopher Stender maintains a strong community focus. Attorney Christopher Stender is a longtime presence in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and served as vice president of the Arizona chapter.

One of the key annual sponsored AILA events over the past decade has been Citizenship Day. Bringing together a large number of advocates and lawyers, the event spans naturalization clinics nationwide and is undertaken in partnership with the NALEO Educational Fund. These clinics provide lawful permanent residents with low to no cost assistance in their efforts to naturalize.

The focus of the event is on enabling the creativity, innovation, and participation in civil society unlocked by people becoming US citizens. At present, the need for experienced counsel on the process is acute, as approximately nine million people have eligibility for naturalization. The date September 17 also coincides with National Constitution Day, which honors the day on which the US Constitution was adopted.

Go Outside with the YMCA

YMCA pic

Image: ymca.net

Immigration attorney Christopher Stender has been a successful lawyer in the California region for nearly a decade. Outside of his work as an immigration attorney, Christopher Stender enjoys participating in YMCA activities with his daughter.

The YMCA has a strong focus on youth development, healthy family relationships, and keeping children active and involved, and its programs support these values. The YMCA hosts an innumerable amount of member programs and events, often varying by location and depending on local activities available. One common program offered nationwide is the Let’s Move! Outside initiative, which was begun by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Let’s Move! Outside is meant to encourage children and young adults to take advantage of nature and outdoor activities. The YMCA partners with the Department of the Interior for the initiative, and hopes to inspire children to do service projects as well as play outdoors more. To support this, the YMCA offers a host of events and services, such as summer programs and free national park coverage for youth. To find an event near you, visit www.ymca.net/letsmoveoutside/.

Grace Point Church Goes to Tijuana

grace point church san diego ca Image: gracepointsandiego.org

grace point church san diego ca
Image: gracepointsandiego.org


Christopher Stender is an immigration attorney based in Southern California. Outside the office, Christopher Stender performs volunteer work at Grace Point Church.

Grace Point Church, a non-denominational institution located in San Diego, has a strong focus on community service. The church hosts a number of events and fundraisers each year, with additional programs and groups available for both young and adult members. Options range from serving food to the homeless on holidays to more creative opportunities, such as spreading the faith through the media.

Along with local events, the church sponsors a number of missions to foreign countries, among them the annual mission trip to nearby Tijuana, Mexico. There, Grace Point volunteers partner with the Centro Shalom Church to help those living in poverty. Participants will often have one-on-one time with the children in the area for faith lessons and activities to help establish a positive relationship and provide the locals with necessities such as food and backpacks.