Thursday, August 18, 2011

Obama Administration To Drop Removal Efforts Against Students

If you are a student in the United States and you are present here unlawfully, there may be good news for you. The Obama administration announced a new policy withholding removal proceedings against students who were brought to the U.S. as children and know no other home than their American home. It also includes military veterans and the spouses of military personnel. According to a statement released by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in a letter to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and other senators,  DHS has "initiated an interagency working group to execute a case-by-case review of all individuals currently in removal proceedings to ensure that they constitute our highest priorities." Sen. Durbin claims the new policy will effectively protect all of the persons that would have been protected from removal by the DREAM Act, a congressional proposal to provide a path of citizenship to persons who have been in the country since they were young children and are enrolled as students.

In June, ICE Director John Morton issued a memorandum setting forth the priorities the agency would follow in pursuing removal actions against persons present in the U.S. unlawfully. The guidelines encouraged agency officers to exercise prosecutorial discretion to drop removal proceedings against persons who had been in the country since they were children and had no serious criminal convictions, or what are described as "low priority"cases. The agency has shifted its focus to removing unlawful aliens who have committed serious crimes or are deemed a threat to national security, which are classified as "high priority" cases. The Obama administration is still urging Congress to pass the DREAM Act, although the country's continuing high unemployment and slow economic growth suggest the likelihood of that happening in the current legislative environment is highly unlikely.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Indianapolis Notario Sentenced For Unauthorized Practice Of Law

An Indianapolis woman who performed immigration services to immigrants in Indianapolis' Hispanic community has been sentenced by a Marion Co. Superior Court judge for income tax evasion and the unauthorized practice of law. M. Esther Barber, also known as Maria Esther Tapia Cuevas, advertised her services under the title of "Notario" for a business she operated under the name Asociacion Civica Mexicana De Indiana, Inc. The Indiana Attorney General's Office has brought a separate action against Barber for the unauthorized practice of law under Indiana's Deceptive Consumer Practices Act.

Individuals like Barber often mislead Hispanic consumers about their credentials by using the "notario" title that is often confused with a "notario publico," a Spanish title for an attorney with specialized training. Barber pleaded guilty to two Class D felony counts of income tax evasion and a Class B misdemeanor for practicing law without a license. Barber received no jail sentence for her crimes; instead, she will be required to serve only 40 hours of community service. The Attorney General also contends that Barber owes the state Department of Revenue $58,194 in unpaid taxes.

If you question whether a person is licensed to practice law in Indiana, you can access Indiana's Roll of Attorneys by clicking here and typing in the person's last name to confirm they are a licensed attorney in good standing with the state of Indiana. Note that a "notario" or notary public is only licensed to administer oaths and witness the execution of documents. They are not authorized to provide legal advice to you.