The Colorado Legislature recently passed a bill to protect immigrants and other Colorado residents from notario fraud. The Immigration Consultants Deceptive Trade Practice bill, HB16-1391, would prohibit deceptive practices among nonattorneys who provide immigration services. The bill targets notarios who fraudulently present themselves as legal representatives or attorneys for compensation. In many Spanish-speaking countries, a “notario” is an attorney or a highly-trained legal specialist. In the United States, however, a “notary public” is able to certify the authenticity of documents, but is not trained or licensed to provide legal assistance or represent individuals in court. Individuals who present themselves as notarios are able to use this mistranslation to take advantage of vulnerable immigrant populations, offering to provide immigration status, relief, or benefits to people regardless of their eligibility. This deception can carry serious, life-changing consequences. It costs immigrants thousands of dollars in charges and filing fees, prevents them from receiving immigration status, relief, or benefits in the future, and can lead to deportation and permanent bars on admission into the United States. Governor Hickenlooper is expected to sign the bill into law in the near future.
Colorado Public Radio recently spoke with the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Dan Pabon, along with victims of notario fraud. The full interview can be found here.