California cracks down on immigration consultants to protect vulnerable consumers
by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
LOS ANGELES — Executive orders, a travel ban, immigration raids and deportations — as immigrant issues take the spotlight in the new administration, they are also expected to fuel a certain type of demand, breeding both fear and uncertainty.
“This uncertainty is causing many immigrants to seek help. And many will seek help from immigration consultants,” said CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
“My office ensures that immigration consultants submit their required paperwork to the State of California — which includes a background check and a $100,000 surety bond — that’s used to pay damages for any harm that’s caused by a service provided by an immigration consultant.”
While legal aid and advice are suggested, state lawmakers are now trying to protect consumers from immigration consultants who may be going beyond their legal duties, or who
may not even be legitimate to begin with.
Secretary of state Alex Padilla is sending out a letter to some one thousand registered immigration consultants, reminding
them of their duties and obligations.
Consumers are urged to visit the Secretary of State’s website for more information on registered immigration consultants.
“Consumers can make sure consultants are properly registered with our office, have the necessary bond coverage, and are complying with the law,” Padilla said. “They can do this before they seek [consultation] and services. ”
Penalties for those prosecuted for immigration consultant-type crimes could be charged with federal felonies, and face jail time and fines.