Its good to hear that DOJ is going after immigration assistance scams.
This is important not only because of the all too many people who are badly hurt — both financially and in terms of their legal situations — by these scams, but because the extent of such things as “notario fraud” is a powerful argument against innovation in access to justice delivery (see my prior post on the relationship between civil Gideon and unauthorized practice of law regulation).
Here is what Assistant AG Tony West said about the new DOJ program:
First, we are encouraging victims to come forward and report what’s happened to their state attorney general, as well as at http://www.ftc.gov/complaint .
Second, we are involved in an effort to train attorneys in immigration law and thereby expand the pool of attorneys available to represent victims of “notario” fraud in immigration proceedings. As a result of a dialogue with the Department of Justice, a group of organizations, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association (also called “AILA”), the New York City and State Bar Associations, and the Katzmann Study Group, is organizing one such training program in New York City, which is expected to launch later this summer.
And finally, the Civil Division, together with the Department’s Access to Justice Initiative — the new head of that initiative, Mark Childress, is here with us today — and AILA, is working with the seven pilot cities to establish a network of clinics designed to help victims of “notario” fraud. In fact, the first of those clinics will take place in Baltimore later this summer. To bring this effort full circle, that clinic will assist victims in a Baltimore case that the FTC is announcing here today.
I hope that this kind of energetic enforcement will make it easier to argue for a well-regulated, quality, access-oriented profession of non-lawyers who can perform appropriate tasks at low cost. That will only be politically acceptable if there is proof that regulation can work.