Immigrants Seeking Legal Advice, Beware - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Immigrants Seeking Legal Advice, Beware

Posted: Updated:

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Immigrants looking for legal help should be cautious who they trust. Attorneys are warning people to protect themselves against immigration fraud.

With immigration reform being debated, many immigrants are seeking legal help with their individual situations and their American dreams are turning into a nightmare.

Several individuals are posing as immigration attorneys and immigration fraud is on the rise.

One of the biggest challenges comes from a translation error.  In Mexico and many other Latin American countries, the English term notary translates to notario in Spanish. 

Notarios are certified legal representatives that have undergone legal training and are licensed to practice law; however, notaries in the U.S. do not have legal training and are not attorneys.

"If they've paid someone money thinking that they're going to obtain a benefit, they don't obtain the benefit and then they go decide to talk to an attorney later, a lot of times it's too far down the road where the attorney can't help them or they were never eligible in the first place," said Immigration Attorney Jonathan Shaklee.

This year in the state of Washington, there have already been several cases where notaries have posed as attorneys and have taken thousands of dollars from victims and in many cases damaged their client's opportunity to become legal residents.

You can read more about the immigration fraud in the current issue of "Tu Decides," the bilingual newspaper.