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Politics

Bill Against Immigration Fraud Passes California Assembly

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, is shown in this undated photo.
AFL-CIO
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, is shown in this undated photo.

A bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, to extend protections against immigration fraud received unanimous Assembly approval Thursday and now will head to the governor's desk.

AB 60 requires lawyers and professionals providing immigration services to abide by ethical business practices.

Gonzalez said she authored the law to protect those seeking citizenship from fraudulent lawyers or those who practice law without credentials. AB 60 will prevent avoidable mistakes that could jeopardize an individual's path to citizenship or lead to deportation, she said.

"California is now ready to crack down on those who would try to deceitfully profit from uncertainty amid the ongoing immigration crisis," Gonzalez said.

The bill is intended to prevent potential fraud and scams related to last year's executive order on immigration reform from President Barack Obama. Other law groups including the State Bar of California and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have recently issued warnings and guidelines to help immigrants avoid predatory practices.

AB 60 extends the 2013 California law that cracks down on some legal professionals who demand payment for immigration services by promising clients they will cut to the front of the line when immigration reform takes effect, Gonzalez said.

It prohibits lawyers and law professionals from accepting advanced payment before applications for immigration relief become available.