The State Bar of California has begun receiving reports of attorneys charging illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship, despite the federal immigration reform bill having yet to pass.
California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said that while promising legalization status under a law the does not yet exist may be unethical, it is not illegal.
"To pay an attorney or consultant fees right now for a hypothetical bill is not something that we want people to do," Gonzalez said.
In order to cease the practice, Gonzalez has proposed Assembly Bill 1159, which would require any funds collected for the service to be refunded if the immigration reform bill is not passed.
Gonzalez’s bill would also require attorneys to clearly state the service provided under each fee, and have contracts written in the immigrant’s native language.
The bill includes funding for a tip line, where anonymous reports could be made for suspicious practices. Anyone caught violating the law would face up to a $1,000 fine each day.
Gonzalez is attempting to fast track the bill, and hopes to see it on the governor’s desk within a few weeks.
The Senate’s Judiciary Committee will consider the bill Monday.