People are preying on undocumented immigrants attempting to achieve U.S. citizenship says one New Jersey lawmaker. Assemblywoman Annette Quijano is calling called on the so-called ‘Gang of Eight’ U.S. Senate leaders overseeing the federal immigration reform efforts to help crack down on those perpetrating the fraud.

(Flickr User: kriskaer)
(Flickr User: kriskaer)

In a letter to all eight Senate leaders Quijano is asking them to address the immigration issue that often happens in urban cities where attorneys and notary publics seek out work from undocumented immigrants and then fail to file the appropriate paperwork on time or at all.

“These notaries and lawyers, who have taken an oath to obey the law, are instead committing fraud and millions of undocumented immigrants continue to fall into this trap,” writes Quijano. “It is common to see large bold signs in streets across urban areas that advertise services regarding immigration. Undocumented immigrants gravitate to them for assistance without knowing whether this notary or attorney will eventually rob them of all their money.”

In the opinion of the Assemblywoman, the Senate leaders should address the issue by granting a special consideration to victims who can prove a notary and/or attorney defrauded them. Quijano suggests modeling a 2012 law she sponsored in New Jersey that upgraded offenses for engaging in unauthorized practice of law; creating a civil action clause; and providing that anyone convicted of such an offense be barred from appointment as a notary public.

“This is a persistent problem in many urban communities,” says Quijano. “It’s very sad to see hard-working immigrants trying to go through what they believe is the proper legal channels to obtain citizenship only to be defrauded by people preying on their weaknesses. As the national conversation on immigration reform moves forward, I think this is an important issue that must be addressed.”