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Notorious notarios prey on immigrants

Oct 11, 2013

Jiang is among an untold number of immigrants who experts say have been victimized by people in their own communities - people who aren't qualified to work on complex paperwork, but do so anyway for a steep fee. In Hispanic communities, they are called notarios, and in Asian and Eastern European communities, the sometimes shoddy, often illegal work is frequently done under the guise of "translation services" and "travel agencies."

The notarios often are paid thousands of dollars to prepare citizenship paperwork for the immigrants, some of whom are deported regardless. Others, like Jiang, are put into a seemingly endless deportation process. If things go bad with U.S. Customs or if nothing's done for them at all, few of these immigrants are willing to report the notarios to the authorities out of fear of drawing attention to their immigration status.

"It becomes the perfect crime, because these folks who are in vulnerable positions in their immigration status are desperate to legalize," said Vanessa Stine, a law student at Villanova University. "Notarios prey on this desperation."

tine started the Notario Fraud Project in the Philadelphia area last year, because the problem is widespread, she said, and because there's been no substantial crackdown by law-enforcement agencies. If notarios are prosecuted, it's usually under the charge of "unauthorized practice of law," and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office says no one's been charged with that crime in more than four years." - Daily News, Oct. 9, 2013

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