The Washington House has unanimously approved a bill aimed at cracking down on unscrupulous “notarios” who give unauthorized legal advice on immigration matters.
The measure adopted Thursday would require anyone giving immigration advice to be a licensed attorney in the state. Immigration assistants would be prohibited from offering such advice.
Supporters say the bill would help address a translation quirk that confuses the Spanish word for “notary public” with the word for “lawyer.” They say incomplete or bad legal advice can lead to deportation, even for immigrants who have legitimate residency claims.
Opponents worry that excluding immigration assistants from providing legal advice limits affordable assistance for immigrants, who often can’t pay an attorney to sort through their paperwork.
The bill now returns to the Senate for approval of amendments.