Many people are closely tracking S.744, the immigration reform bill currently in Congress that would potentially open a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. In the midst of the flood of news regarding the bill, it is easy to be confused about the current state of the bill. Our law firm, which regularly does local consultations in Eagle Pass, Del Rio, Laredo, San Angelo, as well as serving clients all over the U.S. and Mexico, received many calls last week from people who believed that the bill was now a law and who wanted to make an appointment for legal counsel. Many of us at The Lozano Law Firm are also immigrants, and we feel it is our responsibility to send a clear message: The immigration reform bill is not yet law. The bill still needs to be approved by the House of Representatives and signed into law by the President of the United States.
Unfortunately, immigration law is historically a field in which people have been exposed to fraud and have been misled by those claiming to provide legal counsel. Just last summer in Austin, TX, a group doing business under the names “Just For People” and “Lead God” was charged by the attorney general for committing immigration fraud. It was reported that people paid up to $10,000 for services that were never rendered and were promised work visas that they never received. In my previous consultations, in these same cities, San Angelo, Laredo, and Eagle Pass, I have heard too many stories of people being taken advantage of by Notarios; who are not authorized to fill out immigration forms, and who are barred by law from giving any type of advice about someone’s immigration process. Simply put: Stay away from Notarios.
Since the introduction of the bill, we have heard reports of offices that are charging a fee to “hold a spot” for legal services in the event the bill becoming a law. We want you to know that the bill is not yet a law, and although our office is hoping just as much as anyone that this bill does become law, we cannot take money from people for services under a law that has not yet been approved by Congress. We strongly advise our community to be very vigilant and exercise caution when contracting legal services from anyone during this time of legal transition.
Of the 70,000 licensed attorneys in the state of Texas, only 7,000 are board certified and less than 150 are board certified in immigration and nationality law. The Texas Board of Legal Specialization provides a free listing of board certified immigration attorneys at https://www.tbls.org/, where you will also find Attorney Alfredo Lozano as one of the very few board certified attorneys in San Antonio. Pay close attention upcoming news reports on new immigration laws, and refer to our website for up-to-date information on what these news reports mean for you.