A campaign led by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) intends to educate immigrants, both documented and undocumented, regarding common scams purporting to be legitimate immigration services. The Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law Initiative began in seven U.S. cities including Detroit, and includes advertisements and printed materials in both English and Spanish. Its website has educational materials available in at least fourteen languages. The USCIS has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for this campaign. They are also engaging state and local agencies to improve communication and facilitate enforcement of laws prohibiting immigration scams.
USCIS offers a list of common scams targeting immigrants. People using the title “Notario Publico” sometimes rely on a difference in the meaning of that title between the U.S. and Latin American countries in order to lure immigrants from those areas. A “notary public” in the U.S. has basic authority to witness signatures and administer some oaths. In some parts of Latin America, the title refers to someone with lawyer-like credentials and authority, leading some immigrants to incorrectly think they have the authority to render legal services.