Breaking
Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

New York, NY – Recently NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst), immigrant rights advocates and service providers hailed the Council’s passage of Intro 746-A.  The bill was passed overwhelmingly at the Council’s Stated Meeting at City Hall.

“Immigrants beware!” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Height, Elmhurst), lead sponsor of Intro 746-A, legislation designed to prevent immigrants from falling prey to unscrupulous service providers.  “Now more than ever it is important to protect our immigrant communities and my legislation does just that.  It clarifies prohibited conduct for service providers and strengthens posting requirements, which now must direct individuals to the Office of New Americans’ hotline for complaints and legal help.  Furthermore, it doubles penalties for those who would still take advantage of immigrants, with fines ranging from $500 – $10,000.  Finally, it creates a Consumer Bill of Rights protecting immigrants from fraud. I thank the New York Immigration Coalition and my colleagues who have worked closely with me on this bill which, when made law, will have a transformative impact on our city.”

Intro 746-A will amend Subchapter 14 of the New York City Administrative Code to impose stricter guidelines for providers and further protect customers against immigration services fraud and the unauthorized practice of law.  Providers will be required to include specific language in their contracts related to the provider’s duties and limitations, as well as their rights as consumers.  Additionally, providers will have to post required signage in English, as well as in any languages in which they provide or offer to provide services.

When enacted, this legislation will prohibit providers from offering and administering services that should only be provided by an attorney and from making statements that could lead a customer to believe that the provider is an attorney or an immigration expert. Additionally, this bill would require that the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) provide periodic reports to the Council with information regarding the number, type, source and result of complaints, as well as efforts to coordinate with other law enforcement agencies.

“I am proud today to cast my vote in support of Council Member Dromm’s legislation to help protect immigrant New Yorkers from immigration services fraud,” said NYC Council Member Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows).  “With the Trump administration threatening to deport thousands of immigrants, it is crucial immigrant New Yorkers in need of assistance receive honest counsel and are not misled by deceitful providers. Immigration service providers that do not comply with the law and actively defraud those in need must be held accountable and face significant consequences.”

“Immigration services fraud has been a critical issue in our communities, but thanks to our elected leaders in New York City in the Council and City Hall, we’re taking important steps to stop it,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition.  “This bill will both protect immigrant communities and require DCA to report complaints against providers to the Council.  It’s another way New York City is standing up to the federal government’s anti-immigrant agenda and to say, this is our New York.”

Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, said, “We applaud Council Member Dromm and the Council for the passage of this legislation, which demonstrates the Council’s commitment to cracking down on notario fraud that hurts immigrant New Yorkers. For too long, members of our community seeking immigration legal services have been taken advantage of by notarios who have neither the necessary legal expertise nor the commitment to their clients’ best interests. This legislation sends a strong message that these scams will no longer be tolerated in New York City.”

“This bill makes New York City a national leader when it comes to protecting its residents in need of legal immigration services,” said Matthew Blaisdell, Esq., Chair of the New York Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Chapter on Ethics and the Unauthorized Practice of Law.  “Immigration law is extremely complicated, and if a person’s case goes wrong she could not only lose the opportunity to improve her status, but might face permanent banishment from the U.S. and deportation to a place where her health and safety may be at risk.  Nothing could be more important than making sure that our residents receive sound advice from someone who is qualified and regulated by our government. By making very clear what it is that notarios are not allowed to do, by adding strong penalties, and by adding additional oversight, this bill sends the message that New Yorkers deserve better when it comes to their legal immigration services.”

Farrin Anello, Chairperson of the New York City Bar Association Immigration and Nationality Law Committee, said, “The New York City Bar Association applauds the City Council for its continued commitment to ensuring that immigrant New Yorkers not only have access to legal counsel, but access to quality counsel.”

Audrey Carr, Director of Immigration and Legal Services for Legal Services NYC, said, “In this time of increased immigration enforcement, Legal Services NYC (LSNYC) commends City Council Member Dromm and the rest of the City Council for passing this important piece of legislation to protect NYC’s immigrant population, including LSNYC clients, from exploitation and fraud.”

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