Over the last 30 years, the Chicana/o-Latina/o Law Review (“CLLR”) has provided an essential forum for the discussion of central issues affecting the Latino community that "mainstream" law journals continue to ignore. Since 1972, the Review has established a reputation for publishing strong scholarly work on affirmative action and education, Spanish and Mexican land grants, environmental justice, language rights, and immigration reform.
Volume 35, Issue 1, 2017
Foreword from the Editors
The state of California is home to the largest undocumented immigrant population in the United States (U.S.), housing one-fourth of our nation’s undocumented immigrants. Because of its unsurpassed undocumented immigrant population, California is a breeding ground for notario fraud, which is essentially the unauthorized practice of immigration law.
The long-awaited opportunity to effectively address notario fraud has arrived, as Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis co-authored a motion to create a licensing program for immigration consultants, which includes payment rates for service and penalties for violations. The motion was passed on September 13, 2016. Once in place, the licensing program and other regulations in this motion provide an opportunity for Los Angeles County—home to more undocumented individuals than any other area in California—to set an example for the rest of California, other states, and eventually the federal government as to what type of laws and enforcement task forces will most effectively combat notario fraud.
I argue that the attempt to combat notario fraud in California will only be effective if officials shift the burden from requiring victims to self-report notario fraud to requiring government agencies to proactively find perpetrators through a notario fraud task force and community and County involvement. Those perpetrators must then be prosecuted, subjected to license revocations, heavy fines, or even incarceration. Parts I through III of this article explain what notarios and notario fraud are, analyze why undocumented immigrants become notario fraud victims, and examine how California has attempted to combat notario fraud—but failed. Part IV examines how other states and cities have attempted to combat notario fraud, and the lessons that Los Angeles County can draw from those attempts. Part V explains Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis’ efforts to combat notario fraud, which are of great importance, as she is responsible for reigniting combatting efforts and providing a blue print on how to combat notario fraud. Lastly, in Part VI, I propose new ways for Los Angeles County and ultimately California to combat notario fraud.
This essay and the accompanying study are part of a broader project, Southern Nevada Strong (SNS), which seeks to improve housing, safety, transportation, and employment opportunities in areas of high need in the Las Vegas, Nevada metropolitan area. The study examined the living conditions for Chicanx/Latinx residents in Barrio 28th Street, employing urban ethnographic methods as part of the community-input phase of SNS.
Although barrios are cultural and historical places of solidarity for Chicanx/Latinx urbanism and spaces of resistance from white Euro-centric influence, they are also spaces of segregation and repression characterized by poor urbanism and inadequate urban policies. Barrio 28th Street is impoverished, with areas of high need. Resident concerns revolve around safety issues, drug problems, and poor housing conditions. Barrio 28th Street is deficient in all the areas SNS seeks to improve yet, despite the deteriorated condition of housing and profound resident safety concerns, this barrio was not selected for consideration for redevelopment as part of the SNS core plans to revitalize declining and deteriorating urban areas. Furthermore, there is an inherent disconnection between the residents, the community leaders, and the SNS stakeholders’ vision for the revitalization of Barrio 28th Street.
The research findings, in conjunction with an analysis of the SNS selection process of the opportunity sites selected for redevelopment, reveal a pattern of neglect and exclusion of low-income communities of color in Southern Nevada in urban development planning initiatives, examined in three areas: gentrification versus improving living conditions, the segregation and criminalization of barrios, and poor barrio urbanism.
The researcher argues that Barrio 28th Street does not represent an area of investment opportunity as put forth by the Site Implementation Strategy; therefore, it was left out of SNS plans to redevelop. Additionally, the underdevelopment of this barrio and the redistribution of funding into other economic favored zones is a result of the legacy of racist practices by policymakers and stakeholders, which fail to implement revitalization programs and adequate urban policies in historically segregated barrios.