California Secretary of State Alex Padilla warned the immigration consulting industry Wednesday that officials will be watching closely for anyone trying to scam undocumented immigrants panicked by recent federal raids and President Donald Trump’s pledge to crack down on people in the U.S. illegally.
State law requires immigration consultants to register with Padilla’s office and sets restrictions on what services they can offer clients trying to navigate the nation’s immigration rules. They can provide translations and legal referrals, for instance, but cannot provide legal advice themselves or claim that they have special influence with federal officials, among the rules. They also have to post a $100,000 bond.
“I’ve seen over the years that whenever there is significant change, or proposed change, to federal law, that people have questions. People turn to consultants for advice and assistance,” Padilla said. “Just given the climate we’re in right now…people not only have questions, they’re scared.
“For the most part, (immigration consultants) provide a very good public service,” Padilla added. “But we know there have been cases in the past of people posing as notaries and consultants. If we can get ahead of that and protect people, then we’ll have met our objective.”
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Anyone violating immigration consulting rules will be referred to the attorney general’s office, he said. The state has 1,016 registered immigration consultants.