State Bar of Texas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 7, 2014
Lowell Brown, communications division director
State Bar of Texas
800-204, 2222, ext. 1713, or 512-427-1713
State Bar of Texas warns against unauthorized practice of law in unaccompanied minor cases
AUSTIN — The State Bar of Texas today issued a warning that people seeking help with immigration matters should be careful not to fall victim to notarios or others who falsely represent themselves as lawyers. Unaccompanied minors may be particularly vulnerable to this problem.
Unlike in some Latin American countries, notarios in the United States are not licensed to practice law and are not qualified to offer legal advice or services. However, law enforcement officials report that notarios often target immigrant communities using false advertising, fraudulent contracts, and large fees—ultimately providing no help to the individuals seeking assistance. As a result, an immigrant may miss opportunities to gain legal status and could face civil and criminal liability for filing false claims.
Only licensed attorneys are qualified to represent people in immigration cases or other matters of law. A licensed Texas attorney will have a bar card number issued by the State Bar of Texas. The public can verify an attorney’s name and bar card number through the State Bar’s online “Find a Lawyer” feature at www.texasbar.com/findalawyer.
Cases of notario fraud should be reported to the Texas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 621-0508 or (800) 252-8011, or to the Supreme Court of Texas Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee at www.txuplc.org.
“The State of Texas takes immigration fraud seriously and is especially concerned about this problem in the wake of the unaccompanied minors situation,” said Leland C. de la Garza, a Dallas civil trial lawyer who serves as chair of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. “This presents a great potential for abuse and victimization. The state has the resources and the willingness to help people who have been abused and to put a stop to the abuse.”
For more immigration resources, including guides on how to avoid notario fraud, visit www.texasbar.com/immigration.
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The State Bar of Texas is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system. For more information, follow the State Bar on Twitter @statebaroftexas, like the State Bar on Facebook at www.facebook.com/statebaroftexas, or visit www.texasbar.com.