Pro Bono News

Notary Scams a Grave Danger for Undocumented Immigrant Community (NV)

Monday, April 09, 2018

Notary Scams a Grave Danger for Undocumented Immigrant Community

"They pose as the cost-effective and more intimate alternative to pricey attorneys for undocumented immigrants looking to establish U.S. residency. Usually Spanish-speaking, they’re familiar with the immigration process — and how to take advantage of those seeking help.

“Notarios publico,” which directly translates to notaries public, are often anything but a safe option for the estimated 210,000 undocumented immigrants living in Nevada, officials and attorneys said. Frequently posing as attorneys themselves, notarios can help to secure a temporary work permit for immigrants but often endanger immigrants’ long-term status in the United States.

“Notarios often build up trust in their targeted communities,” said Michael Kagan, director of UNLV’s Immigration Clinic. “They make the immigration process seem more open and logical than it actually is.”

Activists and local attorneys say Cecilia Gomez, pictured here (seated, right) with her children, was detained at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office during an appointment to receive permanent residency.

Las Vegan Cecilia Gomez is one victim to fall prey to the harsh realities of working with a notario, according to family and friends. Gomez believes she was scammed in the late 1990s by a woman promising to help her attain legal U.S. residency after she paid nearly $1,000 for what she thought was her chance at permanent U.S. residency with a green card..."

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