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Sep 2, 2013 6:05 PM by Associated Press

Congress considers bills targeting notarios

DALLAS (AP) - Congress is considering expanding protections for immigrants who might be targets for fraud from crooked lawyers or con artists.

Bills in both chambers are meant to address a potential spike in legal fraud against immigrants if Congress approves pathways to citizenship. Lawmakers fear more immigrants could be approached by unqualified individuals who overcharge and sometimes offer no services.

While there is no federal statute that addresses the unauthorized practice of immigration law, the Justice Department says it's already able to prosecute using other statutes.

Still, supporters say putting a specific federal law on the books would be an effective deterrent in places where local authorities need the help.

A federal database has collected nearly 3,000 complaints since it started keeping track in 2006. But federal officials say the problem is under-reported.DALLAS (AP) - Congress is considering expanding protections for immigrants who might be targets for fraud from crooked lawyers or con artists.

Bills in both chambers are meant to address a potential spike in legal fraud against immigrants if Congress approves pathways to citizenship. Lawmakers fear more immigrants could be approached by unqualified individuals who overcharge and sometimes offer no services.

While there is no federal statute that addresses the unauthorized practice of immigration law, the Justice Department says it's already able to prosecute using other statutes.

Still, supporters say putting a specific federal law on the books would be an effective deterrent in places where local authorities need the help.

A federal database has collected nearly 3,000 complaints since it started keeping track in 2006. But federal officials say the problem is under-reported.

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