Wichita Falls, Texas native and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced his office has shut down several fraudulent immigaration consulting operations in Texas today, Wednesday, May 29, according to a release from the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
A Hidalgo County District Judge granted Abbott’s request and issued permanent and temporary injunctions against four defendants.
The defendants earlier this month were charged with violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and the Notary Public Act. They were charged with unlawfully representing that they were legally authorized to process immigration cases before federal authorities. State investigators discovered the defendants were neither licensed attorneys nor accredited to offer immigration-related legal services.
Under federal law, only licensed attorneys and organizations accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals may offer immigration consulting services.
Some of the alleged violations occured because Texas law authorizes notaries public to witness the signing of legal documents but forbids them from offering immigration services unless they hold a separate license to practice law. Scam artists are known to have taken advantage of the misunderstanding between the term “notary” and the similar-sounding Spanish term “notario publico”, which is used in Latin America to describe highly experienced, specialized attorneys.
The four defendants are Veronica Garcia and Cecilia Solis, doing business as Garcia and Solis Services, Ana Isabel Lumbreras, doing business as Montemayor Services, Marilla Luz doing business as Immigration Help, Jairo Romanovich, doing business as Romanovich Charitable Service Inc.
Since Abbott, who may run for governor in the next election, assumed office in 2002, the Attorney General’s Office of Texas has shut down more than 75 businesses for providing unauthorized legal services.
Victims of an unauthorized legal services provider should file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 252-8011 or online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.
Readers concerned about being victimized by immigration fraud may also check the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website for further information about this problem.
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