The City council passed a bill last week sponsored by Councilman Danny Dromm that aims to protect immigrants from fraudulent legal service providers.
The bill imposes stricter standards on immigration service providers and imposes hefty fines for those firms that fail to comply.
Under the new regulations, providers will be required to put in writing the services they will provide in English and other languages. They must state services that they are not permitted to offer.
Providers will also be prohibited from offering any services that should be administered by an attorney and from making statements that could lead a client to believe they are an attorney.
“Now more than ever it is important to protect our immigrant communities and my legislation does just that,” Dromm said in a statement.
“It clarifies prohibited conduct for service providers and strengthens posting requirements,” Dromm said.
The bill also doubles penalties for those firms that take advantage of immigrants, with fines ranging from $500 to $10,000 and creates a Consumer Bill of Rights in an effort to protect immigrants from fraud.
The new bill will also require the Department of Consumer Affairs to periodically report back to the City Council with data on the number, type, source and results of complaints, and its efforts to coordinate with other law enforcement agencies.
“Immigration services fraud has been a critical issue in our communities, but thanks to our elected leaders in New York City in the Council and City Hall, we’re taking important steps to stop it,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “It’s another way New York City is standing up to the federal government’s anti-immigrant agenda and to say, this is our New York.”