Immigration officials are teaming up with federal and state prosecutors, the Federal Trade Commission, lawyers' groups and immigrant advocate organizations in a new nationwide effort to combat an epidemic of schemes by people posing as immigration lawyers, says the New York Times. The campaign, which will begin in Washington on Thursday, is an effort by the Obama administration to step up one form of assistance to immigrant communities, which have intensified their criticism of President Obama as they have faced a record pace of deportations in the last two years.
Officials say this is the first time a crackdown on fake immigration lawyers has been coordinated broadly among federal and state agencies and local immigrant aid organizations. Federal appeals courts in New York, California and other regions with major immigrant populations have been deluged with cases of immigrants who sought legal status through the courts, but ended up in labyrinths leading to deportation because of incompetent or fraudulent lawyers. The effort involves a blitz of advertising to alert immigrants on how to recognize fake lawyers and consultants, and an effort by prosecutors to bring criminal cases to serve as examples. A program by the immigration court system will expand the number of local nonprofit organizations trained and certified to provide basic legal services to immigrants.