DACA Applicants Should Beware of “Notarios Publicos”

caution.jpgUndocumented immigrants who are seeking help to file an application for Deferred Action for Childhood for Rivals (DACA) should avoid non-attorneys who hold themselves out as “notarios publicos,” the Spanish translation for notary public. In many Spanish speaking countries, the term notario publico is a title used for a highly esteemed professional who is licensed to practice law in a limited manner. However, in the United States, a notary public has a completely different meaning.

Many notarios take advantage of the different meaning in translation from Spanish to English to cause considerable confusion in Latino communities and mislead Latinos into believing that notaries can provide them with legal representation and legal services. On the contrary, only a licensed attorney can legally represent you and speak to the US government or in a court on your behalf.

Just recently, “notario publico” Martha Salazar, who had been operating a business in Tennessee for 17 years preparing immigration documents and giving legal assistance and advice in immigration matters, was found to have been practicing law without a license. Salazar was ordered by a judge to shut down her business and was ordered to return her fees back to her defrauded customers.

Legally, notarios or public notaries may only assist in the preparation of forms. They may not legally give you advice, may not plan a legal strategy for you, and they may not represent you or speak to the government on your behalf.

There is much more that goes into properly and competently preparing and filing an immigration case than filling out a few forms and mailing them in. The practice of immigration law is very serious business, and mistakes can result in serious, life-changing consequences. Therefore, if you need legal assistance for your DACA application, or with any other immigration law matter, you should only use the services of a licensed attorney who can competently and professionally represent you.