H. R. 6190
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
September 26, 2006
Mr. Owens introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To reduce the number of innocent victims of immigration fraud by making certain immigration consultant practices criminal offenses.
This Act may be cited as the
Immigration Relief and Protection Act
Congress finds the following:
The number of fraudulent immigration consultants preying upon immigrants seeking assistance has risen dramatically in recent years.
Fraudulent immigration consultants extract money from aliens, including fees or compensation for services not provided, and give false promises, misleading statements, and baseless guarantees.
Many unscrupulous consultants claim that they are immigration attorneys.
Fraudulent consultants claim that they have close connections to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Victims of immigration fraud are usually afraid to report fraud to Government officials because they are unsure of their rights and are too fearful of deportation.
In this Act:
attorney means any individual who is a member in good
standing of the bar of the highest court of any State, possession, territory,
Commonwealth, or the District of Columbia, and is not under any order of any
court suspending, enjoining, restraining, disbarring, or otherwise restricting
such person in the practice of law.
means any individual or organization that has been accredited by the Board of
Immigration Appeals pursuant to section 292 of title 8, Code of Federal
compensation means money, property, promise of payment, or
any other consideration, provided directly or indirectly.
means any individual, organization, or entity that in exchange for compensation or the expectation of compensation, promises to provide or provides assistance or advice on an immigration matter; and
does not include any attorney, individual employed by and working under the direct supervision of one or more attorneys, or any accredited representative.
immigration matter means any
proceeding, filing, or action affecting the immigration or citizenship status
of any individual which arises under any immigration or naturalization law,
Executive order, Presidential proclamation, or action of United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services, other component of the Department of
Homeland Security, the Department of State, or the Department of Labor.
Prohibited acts and criminal penalties
It shall be unlawful for any immigration consultant to intentionally or with reckless disregard for the truth to—
make any false or misleading statement, guarantee, or promise to any client, prospective client, or the public while providing, offering, or advertising services;
make any statement indicating or implying that the immigration consultant can or will obtain special favors from, or has special influence with, any government agency;
demand or retain any fees or compensation for services not performed, or costs that are not actually incurred;
represent that a fee may be charged, or charge a fee for the distribution, provision, or submission of any official document or form issued or promulgated by a State or Federal governmental entity, or for a referral of the client to another individual or entity that is qualified to provide services or assistance which the immigration consultant will not provide;
refuse to return any document or fail to provide copies supplied by, prepared on behalf of, or paid for by, any client or prospective client, even in the event of a fee dispute;
select forms to be filed with any government agency in connection with an immigration matter;
disclose any information to, or file any forms or documents with, immigration or other authorities without the knowledge or consent of the client;
engage in the unauthorized practice of law in connection with an immigration matter, as such is defined by applicable State statutes, regulations, rules, or municipal ordinances, in conjunction with an immigration matter; or
hold himself or
herself out to any client, prospective client, or to the public as engaging in
or entitled to engage in the practice of law, or uses any title in any
language, such as
notary public, to
convey attorney status.
Any immigration consultant who commits any act set forth in subsection (a) shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
Advertisement disclaimer, notice, and written contract
It shall be unlawful for an immigration consultant to make any advertisement unless the advertisement includes a statement that the immigration consultant is not an attorney, that the immigration consultant cannot provide legal advice or select forms for use by clients or prospective clients, and that the immigration consultant cannot obtain special favors from and has no special influence with, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
It shall be unlawful for an immigration consultant to perform immigration consulting services unless, in any office in which an immigration consultant meets with clients or prospective clients, the immigration consultant has conspicuously displayed a notice, no smaller than 12 inches by 20 inches and in boldface print no smaller than 1 inch in height, that includes—
a statement that the immigration consultant is not an attorney, cannot select forms for use by the client, and cannot provide legal services in any immigration matter; and
a statement that the immigration consultant cannot obtain special favors from, and has no special influence with, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
It shall be unlawful for an immigration consultant knowingly to act in an immigration matter unless the immigration consultant has entered into a written contract (in both English and the other principal language of the client, if not English) with the client that includes—
a description of all services to be performed by the immigration consultant under the agreement;
the amount to be paid by the client;
a statement, printed on the face of the contract in boldface type no smaller than 10 point, that the immigration consultant is not licensed and authorized to practice law in the State in which the immigration consultant’s services are to be performed and is unable to perform legal services;
a statement, printed on the face of the contract in boldface type no smaller than 10 point, that any document provided to the immigration consultant in connection with the immigration matter may not be retained by the immigration consultant and must be returned to the client at any time requested by the client;
a statement that the client may rescind the contract within 72 hours of the time it is executed and receive a full refund of all monies paid to the immigration consultant; and
a statement certifying that a copy of the contract has been provided to the client upon execution of the contract.
Any immigration consultant who knowingly fails to perform any requirement set forth in this section shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
Any individual aggrieved by reason of any violation of section 4 or 5 may commence a civil action in any appropriate United States district court for the relief set forth in subsection (d).
Civil actions by the Attorney General
If the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that any individual or group of individuals is being, has been, or may be injured by reason of any violation of section 4 or 5, the Attorney General may commence a civil action in any appropriate United States district court for the relief set forth in subsections (d) and (e).
Civil actions by state attorneys general
If the attorney general of a State has reasonable cause to believe that any individual or group of individuals is being, has been, or may be injured by reason of any violation of section 4 or 5, such attorney general may commence a civil action in the name of such State, as parens patriae on behalf of individuals residing in such State, in any appropriate United States district court for the relief set forth in subsections (d) and (e).
In any civil action brought under this section, the court may award appropriate relief, including temporary, preliminary, or permanent injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as the costs of suit and reasonable fees for attorneys and expert witnesses. Injunctive relief may include, where appropriate, an order temporarily or permanently enjoining the defendant from serving as an immigration consultant in any immigration matter.
In addition to the relief provided for in subsection (d) which the Attorney General or any State attorney general may seek on behalf of an aggrieved individual or individuals, the court may also assess a civil penalty not exceeding $50,000 for a first violation and $100,000 for subsequent violations when sought by the Attorney General or any State attorney general.
Establishment of task forces
The Attorney General shall establish task forces composed of Federal investigatory and prosecutorial personnel, and any State or local personnel who may be assigned by the States in which they are employed to serve, in the eight districts determined by the Attorney General to contain the largest numbers of aliens subject to violations of sections 4 and 5. Such task forces shall investigate, criminally prosecute, and bring civil suits based on violations of sections 4 and 5, section 274C of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1324c), section 1546 of title 18, United States Code, and any other applicable Federal, State, or local law.
Authorization of appropriations
There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Homeland Security $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2007 and each subsequent fiscal year to carry out this section.
Availability of funds
Amounts appropriated pursuant to paragraph (1) are authorized to remain available until expended.
Outreach by Secretary of Homeland Security
The Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish a program to inform aliens about—
the obligations of immigration consultants under this Act;
methods of law enforcement, redress, and assistance under this Act and any other related law, regulation, or program established by the Department of Homeland Security or other Federal, State, or local agency; and
the hotline to be established under subsection (b).
The Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish a toll-free hotline to be used by aliens and others with knowledge or information of violations of sections 4 and 5, section 274C of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1324c), section 1546 of title 18, United States Code, or any other applicable Federal, State, or local law. Callers may provide information anonymously. In situations determined appropriate by the Secretary of Homeland Security, callers or information provided by callers shall be forwarded to appropriate Federal or State law enforcement authorities.
Authorization of Appropriations
There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Homeland Security $7,000,000 for fiscal year 2007 and each subsequent fiscal year in order to carry out this section.
Availability of funds
Amounts appropriated pursuant to paragraph (1) are authorized to remain available until expended.
Except as otherwise provided in this section, neither the Secretary of Homeland Security nor any other official or employee of the Department of Homeland Security or of any bureau or agency thereof may use the information provided by any individual (including an alien not lawfully present in the United States) in relation to a violation of sections 4 and 5 for any purpose other than to carry out this Act. If such information is provided by an alien not lawfully present in the United States, such information shall not be used for the purpose of identifying or removing the alien from the United States or imposing other sanctions against the alien.
Subsection (a) shall not apply if the Secretary of Homeland Security or other official or employee of the Department of Homeland Security or of any bureau or agency thereof determines that the information referred to in such subsection was not provided in good faith in conjunction with a credible report relating to a violation of this Act, but was provided in order to evade the application of Federal immigration law.
Whoever knowingly uses information in violation of this section shall be fined not more than $10,000.
Nonpreemption of more protective State and local laws
The provisions of this Act shall supersede State and local laws, regulations, and municipal ordinances only to the extent that such State and local laws, regulations, and municipal ordinances impede the application of any provision of this Act. States and localities may impose requirements supplementing the requirements imposed by this Act.