To License or Not to License? A Look at Differing Approaches to Policing the Activities of Nonlawyer Immigration Service Providers
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
December 1, 2011
Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 33, No. 2, p. 437, December 2011
Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 366
State (and some local) governments have struggled to find ways to protect immigrants from exploitation by persons falsely holding themselves out as immigration lawyers or claiming expertise as notarios or immigration consultants. Existing legislation ranges from attempts to regulate the activities of nonlawyer immigration service providers (ISPs) by delineating prohibited practices; to requiring ISPs to post a bond or register with the state; to specifically restricting the provision of immigration assistance for compensation by any nonlawyer who is not accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to transcription, translation, document procurement and related clerical tasks. A comparative look at the current law in New York - and at suggestions that enforcement would be enhanced if ISPs were required to obtain a license - on the one hand, and at a new law in the State of Washington that seeks to ban the activities of ISPs altogether on the other hand, highlights both the advantages and shortcomings of these approaches. To sidestep the pitfalls associated with licensing or otherwise regulating ISPs, officials might consider an alternative approach, and replace laws regulating ISPs with laws that specifically target, and ban, the unauthorized practice of immigration law and that mete out serious punishment for egregious, willful violations - while providing legitimate nonprofit religious, charitable, and community-based organizations with no mens rea to do harm with the opportunity to avoid sanctions if they seek recognition and accreditation by the BIA.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 53
Keywords: immigration, notarios, unauthorized practice of law
Date posted: January 4, 2012 ; Last revised: April 2, 2012
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