Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has put an end to a non-profit group that misled immigrants into believing that they were licensed to handle immigration cases.
The organization, Cristo Vive, which was based in Austin, was accused of providing unauthorized legal services to immigrants. It has been closed and must pay fines and restitution of more than $500,000.
Investigators last summer filed an enforcement action for violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Notary Public Act.
The final judgment filed Aug. 30 closed Cristo Vive and barred three executives – Jorge Sanchez, Maria Eugenia Rodarte Sanchez and Leslie Bernard "Bernie" Boudreaux Jr.– from advertising, performing or accepting money for immigration consulting services.
Federal law calls for only licensed attorneys and organizations approved by the U.S. Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals to offer immigration-related legal services.
Authorities in many states, as well as at the federal level, have acknowledged that widespread fraud in immigration cases is a critical problem and have implemented various policies to crack down on those who prey on immigrants.
Many immigrants who turn to such unscrupulous providers end up losing thousands of dollars, and find themselves facing deportation once they lose their cases.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.