Newly arrived immigrants seeking to comply with
the laws of this country are preyed upon by con artists who take
advantage of language barriers and confusion in terminology, place
deceptive ads and promise "insider" contacts.
Mr. Lin was a minister in China. To escape
religious persecution he came to America seeking religious freedom.
After arriving, he went to a legal services business advertised in a
Chinese newspaper. For $10,000, the business promised him a green
card. Mr. Lin borrowed half of the fee money. The green card never
arrived. When Mr. Lin took an American-born friend to assist him in
obtaining the green card or his money back, an agent of the business
yelled at Mr. Lin's friend and shoved her down a stairway.
An Armenian national posing as a former
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agent would lure foreign
nationals, mainly Armenian and Japanese, promising an inside track in
assisting them with their immigration status. This UPL provider,
charging an average of $10,000, would file bogus claims for political
asylum for Japanese nationals where no case for persecution could be
made. When the INS discovered the falsehood, the client would end up
in deportation proceedings.
In July the State Bar Board of Governors began to
tackle this complex issue. Our goal is to curb UPL activities
involving consumer harm as part of a balanced, collaborative effort to
increase access to legal services and to the justice system. In
addition to working with various agencies and law enforcement
officials, we plan to develop a litigation handbook and continue to
pursue investigations and disciplinary actions against lawyers who aid
and abet UPL. As our president already mentioned, we also plan to
propose statutory and rule amendments to enhance the enforcement of
limitations on non-lawyer practice.
part of our public protection responsibility, it is crucial that we
educate the public, especially the immigrant communities, so they do
not fall prey to unscrupulous UPL providers. Knowledge is power, and
an educated public can make better-informed decisions about their own
NOTE: See related UPL stories on pages 1 and 7. Please send
your comments or ideas regarding other issues to email@example.com.