If you read the propaganda published by non-profits who cater to immigrants, one could easily infer that these organizations are the go-to place to receive legal assistance on how to remain in the United States legally. This is especially true if you come from a place where lawyers are part of a corrupt legal system, and you are ignorant of the U.S. legal system. To make matters worse, U.S. Immigration Law is exceedingly complex and it takes attorneys years to master the nuances involved whenever one contemplates filing an application that, if denied, could result in the banishment of the petitioner.
When these non-profits announce a “free” legal clinic that will allegedly benefit thousands of immigrants, many take advantage of the opportunity to vilify immigration attorneys. These groups constantly cite to tales of a cadre of unscrupulous immigration lawyers and notarios who fail to deliver promised services and charge exaggerated fees. In Latin America a "notario" is a high-powered attorney who occupies a position similar to a judge in the United States. In the U.S., Hispanic notaries balk immigrants of their hard-earned cash and rob dreams by promising legal work they are not authorized to perform and often file applications that result in deportation for the applicant. The nonprofits equate these fraudsters to lawyers in a groundless campaign to vilify highly-trained immigration lawyers without ever citing specific cases involving real attorneys. Of course, if these stories were in fact true, there would be a record of it courtesy of a state bar disciplinary opinion.
Two such local non-profits who have engaged on bogus campaigns to encourage public mistrust of the legal profession are Conexion Americas/Casa Azafran and TIRRC (Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Coalition). When President Obama came to Nashville to decree his executive action on national tv, he stood next to a gleaming Renata Soto as he stated that no-one needs to hire an immigration attorney or a notario to file for DAPA. Of course, DAPA is being litigated at the Supreme Court and has put the brakes on a planned wide-spread drive to process applications by these non-profits.
TIRRC, a statewide coalition that practices immigration law by using volunteers is not shy about bashing the same lawyers asked to provide volunteer legal advice at clinics. Ironically, TIRRC seeks donations from the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as time from its’ members at TIRRC clinics. This writer has a long history of re-viewing botched applications prepared by volunteer lawyers who knew nothing about immigration law at TIRRC clin-ics. USA Today reports in a carefully-honed offensive tone that TIRRC reported that “one immigrant spent $18,000 in application and attorney fees just to get a green card”. Of course, no names or specific information was given. As of this writing, TIRRC has a video posted on its website (in Spanish) depicting immigration lawyers and notarios as fraudsters. The image under the tag line depicts an immigration lawyer being handed a stack of $100 bills. The mes-sage was posted when immigration reform was pending and specifically offered legal advice telling people not to seek legal representation from attorneys. This advertisement was published before TIRRC obtained an immigration representative authorized to handle limited legal matters on a low-cost basis.