BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    







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        |Hearing Date:August  19, 2013      |Bill No:AB                         |
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                      SENATE COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS, PROFESSIONS 
                               AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
                              Senator Ted W. Lieu, Chair
                                           

                        Bill No:        AB 1159Author:Gonzalez
                      As Amended:August 15, 2013      Fiscal:Yes

        
        SUBJECT:  Immigration services.
        
        SUMMARY:  An urgency measure which provides that it is the unlicensed  
        practice of law for an immigration consultant, or any person who is  
        not an attorney, to literally translate, from English into another  
        language, in written documents or advertisements, the term "notary  
        public," or any other term that implies that the person is an  
        attorney; requires attorneys who provide immigration reform act  
        services to use a written contract in English and in the client's  
        native language which contains specified elements; prohibits an  
        attorney or an immigration consultant from demanding or accepting the  
        advance payment of any funds from a person for immigration reform act  
        services before the enactment of any immigration reform act; requires  
        immigration consultants to place client funds into a trust account;  
        and, increases the bond required by an immigration consultant to  
        $100,000.

        Existing law:
        
       1)The State Bar Act licenses and regulates attorneys by the State Bar  
          of California (State Bar).  (Business and Professions Code (BPC)   
          6000 et seq.)

        2) Prohibits the practice of law in California by any person who is  
           not an active member of the State Bar.  Further provides that any  
           person advertising or holding out as practicing, entitled to, or  
           otherwise practicing law, who is not an active member of the State  
           Bar, or otherwise authorized pursuant to statute or court rule to  






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           practice law, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one  
           year imprisonment or by a fine of up to $1,000, or by both.  A  
           second or subsequent conviction requires a sentence of not less  
           than 90 days in jail, except as provided.  (BPC  6125, 6126)

       3)Regulates a person engaged in the business or acting in the capacity  
          of an immigration consultant, and provides that a violation of these  
          provisions is a crime.  (BPC  22440 et seq.)

       4)Defines "immigration consultant" as a person giving non-legal  
          assistance or advice on an immigration matter, such as completing  
          forms, translating answers, securing forms, making referrals, or  
          submitting forms.  (BPC  22441)

       5)Requires an immigration consultant to satisfactorily pass a  
          background check conducted by the Secretary of State, and requires  
          the Secretary of State to disqualify an individual from 

       acting as an immigration consultant who does not meet certain specified  
          requirements.  
       (BPC  22441.1)

       6)Requires immigration consultants to provide a client, in the client's  
          native language, a written contract with certain contract language  
          requirements and restrictions prescribed by the Department of  
          Consumer Affairs regulations, and exempts from this requirement  
          employees of a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation who provide certain  
          free or low-cost services.  
       (BPC  22242)

       7)Requires immigration consultants to provide a client with payment  
          receipts, as well as statements of services and payments every two  
          months.  (BPC  22442.1)

       8)Requires immigration consultants to visibly display certain  
          information, such as evidence of compliance with the bonding  
          requirement, a statement that the immigration consultant is not an  
          attorney, fee information, and to provide similar written  
          information to clients prior to providing services.  (BPC  22442.2)

       9)Requires an immigration consultant to clearly identify that he/she is  
          not an attorney.  
       (BPC  22442 (b) (3))







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       10)Prohibits an immigration consultant from literally translating, with  
          the intent to mislead, from English into another language, words or  
          titles including, but not limited to, "notary public," "notary,"  
          "licensed," "attorney," "lawyer," or any term that might imply that  
          the person is an attorney in any document, including an  
          advertisement, stationery, letterhead, business card, or other  
          comparable written material describing the immigration consultant.   
          (BPC  22442.3)

       11)Requires all immigration consultants to file a $50,000 surety bond,  
          related disclosure form, and other specified information with the  
          Secretary of State, and to file and routinely update additional  
          business information with the Secretary of State, and allows the  
          Secretary of State to charge a fee to cover the costs of filing and  
          maintaining the bond.  (BPC  22443.1)

       12)Makes a violation of the immigration consultant requirements subject  
          to a civil penalty not to exceed $100,000 for each violation and a  
          misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $2,000 to $10,000 per client  
          and/or up to one year imprisonment.  Makes a second or subsequent  
          violation for certain provisions a felony.  (BPC  22445)

       13)Prohibits a notary public (who is not an attorney) from making the  
          literal translation of the phrase "notary public" into Spanish  
          "notario publico" or "notario" and provides for suspension or  
          revocation of the commission of any notary public who fails to  
          comply with that prohibition.  (Government Code  8219.5)

        This bill:

       1)Makes it a violation of the laws prohibiting the unauthorized  
          practice of law for any person who is not an attorney to literally  
          translate from English into another language, in any document,  
          including an advertisement, stationery, letterhead, business card,  
          or other comparable written material, any words or titles,  
          including, but not limited to, "notary public," "notary,"  
          "licensed," "attorney," or "lawyer," to imply that the person is an  
          attorney, and expressly prohibits the literal translation of the  
          phrase "notary public" into Spanish as "notrario publico" or  
          "notario."

       2)Adds a specified body of law to the State Bar Act relating to  
          "Attorneys Providing Immigration Services."







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       3)Defines certain terms for purposes of the article:

           a)   "Immigration reform act" means any pending or future act of  
             Congress that is enacted after the effective date of this bill  
             but before January 1, 2017, including but not limited to, the  
             federal act known as the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity,  
             and Immigration Modernization Act" (S. 744, 2013), which  
             authorizes an undocumented immigrant, who either entered the  
             United States without inspection or who did not depart after  
             expiration of a nonimmigrant visa, to attain a lawful status  
             under federal law.

           b)   "Immigration reform act services" means the services necessary  
             in the preparation of an application and other related initial  
             processes in order for an undocumented immigrant, who either  
             entered the United States without inspection or who did not  
             depart after expiration of a nonimmigrant visa, to attain a  
             lawful status under an immigration reform act.

       1)Specifies that these provisions shall apply to:

           a)   An attorney who is an active member of the State Bar who  
             provides immigration reform act services.

           b)   An attorney who is not a member of the State Bar, but who is  
             authorized to practice law or authorized by federal law to  
             represent persons before the Board of Immigration Appeals or the  
             United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and who is  
             providing immigration reform act services in an office or  
             business in California.

       1)Prohibits an attorney from demanding or accepting the advance payment  
          of any funds from a person for immigration reform act services  
          before the enactment of an immigration reform act, and provides that  
          any funds received after the effective date of the bill, but before  
          the enactment of an immigration reform act, shall be refunded to the  
          client.  

       2)Provides that if an attorney providing immigration reform act  
          services accepted funds prior to the effective date of these  
          provisions, and the services were provided, the attorney shall  
          provide the client with a statement of accounting describing the  
          services rendered.  Any funds received before the effective date of  
          the bill, but before the enactment of an immigration reform act,  






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          shall be deposited into a client trust account.  An attorney that  
          deposits funds into a client trust account shall provide the client  
          a written notice in English and in the client's native language,  
          that no benefits or relief is available, and that an application may  
          not be processed until the enactment of an immigration reform act,  
          as specified.

       3)Requires upon the enactment of an immigration reform act, an attorney  
          providing immigration reform act services, prior to providing those  
          services, to provide the client with a written contract which  
          includes all of the following:

           a)   A description explaining the services the attorney anticipates  
             will be performed.

           b)   The basis of compensation for each service described,  
             including hourly rate, statutory fees, flat fees, and other  
             applicable charges.

           c)   A statement informing the client that complaints may be  
             reported to the Office of Immigrant Assistance of the Department  
             of Justice, to the State Bar, or the bar of the court of any  
             state or jurisdiction where the attorney is admitted to practice  
             law.  The statement shall include the toll-free telephone numbers  
             and Internet Web sites of those entities.

       1)Requires the written contract to be in English and the client's  
          native language, provided that:

           a)   Upon the consent of the client, the contract need not be  
             written in English, and may instead be written in the client's  
             native language or another language the client understands.

           b)   For unwritten languages or extremely rare or uncommon  
             languages, the contract shall be written in English and orally  
             translated to the client in the language the client can  
             understand.

           c)   Makes a contract void if it does not comply with the language  
             provisions. 

       1)Requires that the written contract of an immigration consultant  
          contain additional information, including:  an itemization of each  
          service to be performed; an explanation of the purpose and process  






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          of each service; and the cost of preparing each document specified  
          in the contract.

       2)Specifies that an immigration consultant who literally translates,  
          from English into another language, the words or titles, including,  
          but not limited to, "notary public," "notary," "licensed,"  
          "attorney," "lawyer," or any other terms that imply that the person  
          is an attorney, shall constitute the unlicensed practice of law, as  
          specified.  Establishes, in addition to any other remedy, a civil  
          penalty of up to $1,000 per day for each violation of this  
          provision, as specified.

       3)Requires an immigration consultant, who provides immigration reform  
          act services to a client, to establish and deposit into a client  
          trust account any funds received from the client prior to performing  
          services for that client, and imposes certain requirements relating  
          to the expenditure of funds from the trust account.

       4)Defines certain terms relating to immigration consultants who perform  
          immigration reform act services:

           a)   "Immigration reform act" means any pending or future act of  
             Congress that is enacted after the effective date of the bill but  
             before January 1, 2017, including but not limited to the federal  
             act known as the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and  
             Immigration Modernization Act" (S. 744, 2013), that authorizes an  
             undocumented immigrant who either entered the United States  
             without inspection or who did not depart after expiration of a  
             nonimmigrant visa, to attain a lawful status under federal law.

           b)   "Immigration reform act services" means the services of an  
             immigration consultant, as described, that are provided in  
             connection with an immigration reform act.
       1)Prohibits an immigration consultant from demanding or accepting the  
          advance payment of any funds from a person for immigration reform  
          act services before the enactment of an immigration reform act, as  
          defined, and requires any funds received after the effective date of  
          the bill, but before the enactment of an immigration reform act, to  
          be refunded to the client.  Any funds received before the effective  
          date of the bill, but before the enactment of the immigration reform  
          act shall be deposited into a client trust account or refunded to  
          the client.

       2)Provides that if an immigration consultant providing immigration  






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          reform act services accepted funds prior to the effective date of  
          these provisions, and the services were provided, the consultant  
          shall provide the client with a statement of accounting describing  
          the services rendered.  Any funds received before the effective date  
          of the bill, but before the enactment of an immigration reform act  
          shall either be refunded to the client or deposited into a client  
          trust account.  An immigration consultant deposits funds into a  
          client trust account shall provide the client a written notice in  
          English and in the client's native language, that no benefits or  
          relief is available, and that no application may be processed until  
          the enactment of an immigration reform act, as specified.   
          Establishes, in addition to any other remedy, a civil penalty of up  
          to $1,000 per day for each violation of this provision, as  
          specified.

       3)Increases the amount of the required bond from $50,000 to $100,000  
          for all immigration consultants; operative180 days after the bill  
          becomes effective

       4)Provides that the bill shall take effect immediately as an urgency  
          measure. 


        FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.  This bill has been keyed fiscal by  
        Legislative Counsel.

        COMMENTS:
        
       1.Purpose.  This bill is sponsored by the State Bar of California  
          (State Bar).  According to the Author, this bill is a consumer  
          protection measure that establishes minimum statutory requirements  
          and regulations through the State Bar for attorneys and non-lawyer  
          document preparers who offer immigration services under  
          comprehensive immigration reform.  The goal of the bill is to  
          protect individuals seeking a path to citizenship from fraud and  
          abuse.

       The Author indicates that the key components to the bill are:

              "      Written Retainer Agreement  .  The bill will require these  
               attorneys to provide a client with a written contract, in the  
               client's language, containing an itemized list, with costs, of  
               each service to be performed.







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              "      Prohibits Early Client Solicitation  .  The bill will make  
               it unlawful to demand money for services, before the passage by  
               Congress of immigration reform legislation, and require the  
               return of fees already collected before the federal legislation  
               is even enacted.  

              "      Prohibition of use of term "Notario."   The legislation  
               will also clarify that advertising the term "notario," which is  
               already prohibited except in certain limited situations, would  
               also constitute an unlawful holding out by a non-lawyer in  
               violation of the law prohibiting the unauthorized practice of  
               law.  

              "      Other Non-lawyer Restrictions  .  Finally, the bill will add  
               other consumer protections for immigration assistance provided  
               by non-lawyers.

       1.Need For the Bill.  According to the Author and the Sponsor, this  
          measure is proposed in anticipation of federal immigration reform  
          legislation that is currently pending in Congress, and is intended  
          to proactively head off problems in implementing immigration reform  
          measures in California.  The Sponsor expresses the need for the  
          bill as follows:
       
              Immigration Fraud has already begun  .  We have heard about the  
             rising tide of fraud in the immigration services arena.  We have  
             read the articles about individuals seeking help who have lost  
             their original documents to unscrupulous attorneys, who have  
             been held captive to unreasonable fees, and who may have been  
             deported as a result of a lawyer's misconduct.  These examples  
             could become a tidal wave of fraud if something is not done  
             immediately.  

              Loan modification fraud experience was small by comparison  .  The  
             experience with loan modification fraud sheds light on the  
             magnitude of the problem.  The State Bar received over 12,500  
             complaints of loan modification misconduct, and many of these  
             victims ended up losing their homes as a result of that fraud.   
             Should Congress pass immigration reform, the potential scope of  
             fraud is exponentially higher than the scope of the loan  
             modification scandal. 

              Over 2.5 million Californians will probably be subject to the  
             proposed immigration reform  .  Tracking past trends, roughly 20  






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             percent of these individuals (500,000) may be targets of fraud.   
             Also applying past trends, if 10 percent of the clients targeted  
             by lawyers under immigration reform complain to the State Bar,  
             there will be 50,000 new complaints in the lawyer discipline  
             system.  Those clients who file complaints with the Bar due to  
             lawyer fraud may be entitled to a full refund of their lost  
             monies from the Client Security Fund (CSF).  This fund was  
             legislatively created in 1971, funded solely by lawyers through  
             their annual law license renewal fee.  Since its inception, it  
             has reimbursed 100 cents on the dollar for all qualified losses  
             suffered by clients.  Assuming 50,000 qualified applications for  
             reimbursement from the CSF at an average of $5,000 each, the  
             impact would be $250 million in claims.

              Reducing fraud before it occurs is the goal of AB 1159  .  This  
             legislation is intended to protect vulnerable Californians who  
             may be able to seek protection as a result of pending federal  
             immigration reform proposals, but instead, are already the  
             targets of fraudulent schemes.  Through specific restrictions on  
             both lawyers and non-lawyers providing certain immigration  
             reform services, the bill is designed to significantly reduce  
             fraud before it occurs, as well as to provide appropriate  
             enforcement tools to recover against those individuals who do  
             engage in fraudulent behavior. 

              AB 1159 is a reasonable approach to ensure consumer protection  
             for immigrants  .  Using common sense business practices as a  
             guideline, AB 1159 will put in place some reasonable minimum  
             requirements for the consultants and attorneys hired by 

             immigrants.  By putting in place these safeguards now, we will  
             prevent the fraud at the front end, avoiding more significant  
             repercussions down the road.

             The urgent need for this bill is demonstrated by the stories of  
             fraud that we hear about on a daily basis.  Bad actors are  
             making guarantees that they cannot fulfill, and they are taking  
             fees for services that they cannot possibly provide at this  
             time.  AB 1159 will take California a step closer to bringing a  
             stop to the growing crisis of immigration services fraud by  
             curtailing the fraud that is happening right now and providing  
             adequate law enforcement tools to address the fraud that does  
             occur.







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       2.Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization  
          Act of 2013.  Federal legislation, the Border Security, Economic  
          Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744) was  
          introduced in the United States Senate in April of this year.  S.744  
          is an immigration reform bill introduced by Senator Charles Schumer  
          of New York and is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of U.S.  
          Senators who wrote and negotiated the bill.

       One of the key components of S. 744 is to create a path to earned  
          citizenship to help the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants  
          in the United States gain legal status.  It would also make changes  
          to the existing system of legal immigration, attempting to make the  
          system more responsive to economic needs, and make provisions for  
          efforts to secure the border of the country.  Under the bill,  
          undocumented immigrants would initially need to apply for a newly  
          created Registered Provisional Immigrant status; in order to do so  
          immigrants would have to pay a fine and fees, any back taxes owed,  
          pass a background check and not have a disqualifying criminal  
          record.  The bill further benefits children of undocumented  
          immigrants and agricultural workers.  The bill would also  
          drastically alter the methods of visa allocation under current  
          family-based and employment-based categories, as well as introduce a  
          new concept of a "merit-based" visa, which awards visas based on  
          points accrued based on educational achievements, employment  
          history, and other contributions to society.

       The Author states: "[S. 744] will create a pathway to citizenship for  
          the 2.5 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in  
          California.  This immigration reform will increase the already  
          enormous need for qualified legal counsel to represent foreign  
          nationals in immigration proceedings.

       "Though individuals in removal proceedings are granted the privilege of  
          being represented by legal counsel, such representation must be  
          provided at no expense to the government.  The burden of securing  
                                                                  and paying for adequate representation is the responsibility of the  
          individual seeking immigration services.  However, because foreign  
          nationals have a much greater chance of achieving a favorable  
          outcome in immigration proceedings if they are represented by  
          counsel, it is in their best interest to retain the services of an  
          immigration services professional.

       "Beyond the immediate problem of fraudulent behavior, the risks  
          involved with an unqualified person performing immigration services  






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          can be profoundly disruptive for the individual seeking legal  
          immigration help.  Simply filing the wrong paperwork with the U.S.  
          Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can trigger interviews,  
          investigations and often deportation proceedings."

       3.Related legislation.   AB 888  (Dickinson, 2013) requires the State Bar  
          to disclose, in confidence, the information in its investigation of  
          an unauthorized practice of law to the agency responsible for  
          criminal enforcement, and allows the State Bar to request the  
          Attorney General or other public prosecutor to bring an enforcement  
          action for the unauthorized practice of law.  The bill additionally  
          allows the State Bar to bring a civil action for any violation of  
          the existing prohibitions on the unauthorized practice of law, and  
          requires the court in those actions to impose a civil penalty, to  
          consider providing relief to any injured party, and award the State  
          Bar reasonable attorney's fees and costs.  (  Status  :  This bill is  
          pending action on the Senate Floor.)

       4.Prior Legislation.  California first enacted its regulation of  
          immigration consultants in 1986 allowing, under certain conditions  
          and requirements, non-lawyers to provide immigration consulting  
          services.  The law was a response to a federal amnesty bill that led  
          to a high volume of citizenship applications and concerns regarding  
          the unscrupulous practices of immigration consultants.  In response  
          to continuing problems with immigration consulting fraud, the law  
          has been amended to improve the protections for clients:

           AB 2520  (Napolitano, Chapter 561, Statutes of 1994) required  
          immigration consultants to register with the Department of  
          Consumer Affairs, increased criminal fines and created new civil  
          fines and penalties for violations of the law.

           AB 3137  (Escutia, Chapter 562, Statutes of 1994) required  
          consultants to file a surety bond and provide clients with  
          copies of every document completed on their behalf.

           SB 1348  (Senate Business and Professions Committee, Chapter 790,  
          Statutes of 1997) increased the bonding requirement from $10,000  
          to $25,000, and extended the law's sunset date for four years to  
          2002.

           AB 1079  (Pacheco, Chapter 336, Statutes of 1999) doubled the  
          bonding requirement to $50,000, added new penalty provisions,  
          and reinstated specified consultant reporting requirements.






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           AB 1858  (Romero, Chapter 674, Statutes of 2000) increased the  
          maximum civil penalty for a violation of the immigration  
          consultants law from $10,000 to $100,000, and required that  
          advertisements by or on behalf of a State Bar member, published  
          in the classified or "yellow pages" section of a telephone  
          directory regarding legal services related to immigration or  
          naturalization services, must include a statement that the  
          person is an active member of the State Bar.  Further, if the  
          advertisement solicits for the employment of a law firm or  
          corporation that employs more than one attorney, the  
          advertisement must disclose that services related to immigration  
          or naturalization provided by the firm or corporation must be  
          provided by an active State Bar member, or by a person under the  
          member's active supervision.
         
          SB 1194  (Romero, Chapter 304, Statutes of 2001) made it unlawful  
          for any person to hold out to be an immigration consultant  
          unless he or she has on file with the Secretary of State the  
          required bond.  Repealed the January 1, 2002 sunset date of the  
          bond requirement for immigration consultants.
         
           AB 1999  (Correa, Chapter 705, Statutes of 2002) authorized the  
          Attorney General, District Attorney, or city attorney to seek  
          civil penalties of up to $100,000 in prosecuting immigration  
          consultant cases, as well as injunctive relief, restitution or  
          other equitable relief on behalf of the general public.  It also  
          authorized courts to order relief for benefit of the injured  
          parties to be paid from the bond that an immigration consultant  
          is required to post with the Secretary of State.
         
           AB 534  (Vargas, Chapter 534, Statutes of 2003) increased the  
          client notification (written disclosure) and written contract  
          requirements for immigration consultants, and required the  
          immigration consultant to post in his or her office a list of  
          services and the related fees.

           AB 2691  (Correa, Chapter 557, Statues of 2004) restricted the  
          use of a bond for compliance purposes to only the immigration  
          consultant or his or her employee, required the Secretary of  
          State to maintain a website for public access to information on  
          immigration consultants' bond status, and required immigration  
          consultants to provide specified identifying information.







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           AB 630  (Chu, Chapter 605, Statutes of 2006) required  
          fingerprinting and background checks for immigration  
          consultants; authorized the Secretary of State to issue cease  
          and desist orders; required the Secretary of State to post  
          information on its Internet Web site about bond compliance,  
          filing disclosure statements, and passing of background checks,  
          and to post photographs of immigration consultants.  The bill  
          further increased the statute of limitations for prosecuting  
          actions against an immigration consultant to four years.

       5.Arguments in Support.   San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, Inc  .  
          (SDVLP) believes the bill is a reasonable approach to ensure  
          consumer protection for immigrants who are seeking relief under the  
          impending federal immigration reform bill, and argues that by  
          putting in place these safeguards now, the state can protect the  
          more than 2.5 million Californians who seek immigration reform act  
          services from the potential fraud and abuse that has already created  
          undue hardships for clients of immigration legal services.  SDVLP  
          states that oftentimes lawyers and consultants make guarantees to  
          clients that they cannot fulfill, demand fees for services that they  
          cannot possibly provide at this time, and even prey upon members of  
          a community whose language barriers or unfamiliarity with the  
          American legal system leave them susceptible to this fraud.  

       6.Arguments in Opposition.  The  American Immigration Lawyers  
          Association  (AILA) argues that the bill places unusual burdens on a  
          single group of attorneys which could have the effect of limiting  
          access to legal services for the state's immigrants.  AILA believes  
          the bill should be made a two year bill in order to allow all  
          stakeholders to further discuss and develop precise protections.   
          AILA argues that there is no demonstrated need for the bill stating  
          that the State Bar's own reports show that immigration fraud  
          accounts for a miniscule percentage of draws on the Client Security  
          Fund, and that instead of being the problem, immigration lawyers are  
          the ones who expose fraud and pick up the pieces when things go  
          wrong.

       AILA argues that there has not been an explanation why current statutes  
          and State Bar rules are insufficient to redress any inappropriate  
          behavior by a California attorney, and that some issues addressed by  
          the bill are already subject to redress under current law and State  
          Bar rules.  AILA states, "It is unprecedented and unwarranted for a  
          state legislature to interfere in the attorney/client relationship  
          at this level, and the one-size-fits all micromanagement of that  






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          agreement neither benefits clients nor protects immigrants from  
          victimization."

       AILA argues that the real threat is the victimization of vulnerable  
          immigrants by notarios and unscrupulous immigration form-preparers.   
          The bill places onerous business and procedural requirements on  
          immigration lawyers far in excess of what is imposed on other  
          attorneys in California.  AILA contends that if the ultimate goal is  
          to prevent consumer fraud in immigration and to sanction bad actors,  
          the more effective solution is to focus resources on the enforcement  
          of existing civil and criminal provisions already designed to target  
          the worst offenders.  However, the proposed legislation will only  
          deplete the number of well- intentioned, competent professionals  
          from one of the most humanitarian areas of the practice of law,  
          according to AILA.

       AILA further argues that as seen from the recent loan modification  
          fiasco, that well-intentioned laws do not always have their intended  
          effect, stating that, "When the California Legislature sought to  
          protect an equally vulnerable class of persons facing potential  
          foreclosure by enacting provisions to prevent attorneys from  
          collecting fees early in the process, the new rules drove most  
          legitimate legal professionals away from this area of practice.   
          People had nowhere to go except to non-attorneys.  Foreclosures  
          sharply rose, people lost their homes, and lien-holders lost their  
          money.  This is essentially the same model being proposed to deal  
          with the prospect of comprehensive immigration reform, and will  
          likely have similar unintended results."

       Finally, AILA argues, there is concern that there are not enough  
          qualified legal professionals to address the needs of the immigrant  
          community, and that the bill will deter lawyers from offering  
          immigration legal services.  Increased capacity will be needed to  
          serve the estimated 3-4 million immigrants in California who will  
          need help under federal immigration reform legislation, and that  
          this bill would make it difficult if not impossible for lawyers who  
          would otherwise offer pro bono or low cost legal services to these  
          communities.

       According to AILA,"At a time when the prospect of large-scale  
          immigration reform has highlighted the need for competent legal help  
          for immigrants, AB1159 would make practicing in this already complex  
          area so much more difficult and provide further disincentives to  
          entering the field."






                                                                        AB 1159
                                                                         Page 15




       7.Recent Amendments.  According to the Author, the recent amendments  
          have significantly narrowed the bill, and were primarily drafted to  
          address a number of the concerns raised by AILA.


         NOTE  :  Double-referral to Judiciary Committee second.

        



        SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION:
        
         Support:  

        State Bar of California (Sponsor)
        San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, Inc.
        Western Center on Law and Poverty

         Opposition:  

        American Immigration Lawyers Association



        Consultant:G. V. Ayers