California passes anti immigration-fraud bill

Following in the footsteps of New York State, California has made headlines in immigration reform this week by passing an anti immigration fraud bill. According to San Diego State University affiliate KPBS, the bill passed through the California General Assembly and received approval on Thursday, May 28 and should take effect immediately. Immigration fraud has become a pronounced problem as of late, appearing predominantly in areas close to the border shared by America and Mexico as well as metropolitan centers. Take a look at some of the details about the bill, immigration fraud, and what Californians can expect moving forward:

The bill
The Sacramento Business Journal has reported that the legislation is known as Assembly Bill 60 and was penned and authored by Loretta Gonzalez. Gonzalez, a Democrat who resides in San Diego, received little opposition to the bill, as it passed the General Assembly by a unanimous vote. Effectively, the bill is set to target lawyers who have offered shady or uncertain services to undocumented immigrants currently living in America. These individuals have fallen prey to attorneys offering false services, which claim to expedite the naturalization process. In speaking with KPBS, Gonzalez offered a brief but poignant summary of the main goals of the bill.

“Despite the disappointing lack of progress in Congress towards finally addressing the need for comprehensive immigration reform, California is now ready to crack down on those who would try to deceitfully profit from uncertainty amid the ongoing immigration process,” said Gonzalez.

Relation to Obama’s actions
Immigration services fraud may have been a problem in America already, but it has risen to new heights with president Barack Obama’s announcement of comprehensive immigration reform. The president’s executive action on immigration reform, which is currently being blocked by a federal judge in Texas, would allow undocumented immigrants who arrived here as Children, to apply for citizenship and work permits. This has caused an issue in that predatory lawyers have begun to offer services where they promise these immigrants an expedited review process when the blocking in Texas is lifted. In many cases, the services require that the undocumented immigrants in question pay the firm upfront and then come back later. More often than not, these immigrants are left with less money and the lawyers simply disappear. This bill is, in short, an effort to protect these individuals from fraud and fiscal damages while president Obama’s executive orders are sorted out.

Earlier actions
While this bill is certainly a step forward when it comes to protecting undocumented immigrants residing in California, it’s far from the first action that has been taken on the matter. The Sacramento Business Journal has also reported that the State Bar of California issued formal warnings about these manipulative practices last year. Though those warnings came shortly after Obama’s executive actions, immigration fraud services have persisted as a problem.