When you’re essentially part of an underground network as an undocumented immigrant, trust is critical. You may talk to others in your position and seek help. In fact, when someone refers you to a notario publico who promises to file the paperwork making your stay legal in the United States, you are elated. It isn’t until you are carted off to a detention center that you learn that you are a victim of notario fraud.
To say the least, you are confused. How could this happen? In your native homeland, a notario is an honorable person. For example, a notario publico in Mexico or Honduras must first be a practicing attorney. Next, he or she must apply for the additional credentials and be appointed by the government.
Despite the literal translation, a notary public in the United States is not the same as a notario publico in other parts of the world. In Houston, offices are set up by notario publicos throughout the city. They assist with filing taxes and preparing immigration documents. However, their qualifications are questionable.
Notary Public v. Notario Publico
The problems with notario publicos are so big in Texas that the government website actually addresses them. Here’s what the Texas Secretary of State wants you to know about the difference between notary publics and notario publicos:
- A notary public is not a notario or notario público.
- A notary public is not authorized to practice law.
- A notary public may not give legal advice or prepare legal documents.
- A notary public may not charge a fee for preparation of immigration documents or represent someone in immigration matters.
In Texas, a notary public witnesses signatures or certifies documents. The only time that a notary public can give legal advice is when he or she is actually licensed as an attorney in the state. Meanwhile, the only people who can advertise as notarios publicos are Texas lawyers certified as notarios publicos in another country.
Truth be told, federal laws are strict when it comes to filing and preparing immigration paperwork. Only licensed attorneys are authorized to provide immigration consultation services.
If you or a loved one has sought the services of a notario publico, you may be subjected to false representations. More than likely, the problem with starts with how the individual describes their credentials. It could be as simple as stating they were an attorney in another country and authorized to practice law in the states. (Only lawyers licensed in Texas may provide you with immigration consultation services.)
A recent article actually says that notario fraud scammers are going after undocumented immigrants here in Texas. These unscrupulous individuals target those who are in the Spanish and Vietnamese communities.
You may have visited a notario upon the recommendation of a good friend. Perhaps you were promised a work permit. More than likely, you became excited that you would not have to worry about deportation. Meanwhile, your fears were short-lived.
In many cases, notarios have filed papers improperly. Deadlines are missed. Some notarios overcharge and bring false hope. Of course, no one ever reports shams perpetrated by notarios. After all, who wants to risk deportation?
The fear is real. You may throw away thousands of dollars on a notario and still get picked up by the authorities. As you or a loved one sits in a detention center waiting for a deportation hearing, you may understandably feel angry and scared.
If you are not considered a flight risk or pose other concerns, you could be eligible for an immigration bond. This allows you freedom until your hearing date. You will have time to get your affairs in order or retain legal counsel.
No matter what the circumstances, no one wants to sit in a detention center. If you have been authorized to post an immigration bond, Freedom Federal Bonding Agency can assist you. Give us a call so we can start working on your release.