Sometimes, undocumented immigrants looking for a way to obtain residency in the United States legally look to hire help. Unfortunately, there are people out there who look to take advantage of the desperation and fear that undocumented immigrants are enduring. Not all helping hands are actually helpful. Some make things terribly worse.
“Notarios public” translates to notaries public. Notarios, the majority of which are Spanish-speaking, sometimes pretend to be attorneys or allow undocumented immigrants to believe that they are attorneys and then cause significant problems for immigrants looking to obtain status in the United States.
Michael Kagan, the director of the UNLV’s Immigration Clinic, said, “Notarios often build up trust in their targeted communities…They make the immigration process seem more open and logical than it actually is.”
Cecilia Gomez tells of the $1,000 dollars she paid to a notario who told her she would help her obtain legal permanent residence in the United States. The notario never contacted her again after she paid her $1,000.
But, her application was submitted and she received a notice to appear in court. When she didn’t appear, a notice of deportation was sent to her. Gomez was completely unaware of any application being filed and any communication USCIS was trying to have with her.
She found out about all of this missed communication when she was arrested 20 years later. On March 27, she went to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in Las Vegas because she wanted to apply for permanent residency. In complete and utter shock, she was arrested.
The application that the notario had submitted for Gomez was filled with mistakes. The address listed as Gomez’s address was incorrect. She had never lived at that address, which was actually a Los Angeles doughnut shop.
Unfortunately, the notario’s scheme is not uncommon.
That is why having a good immigration attorney is so important.