Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

Thank you, Mr. President. At this time, I will offer remarks about the immigration services bill I introduced last week.

Philadelphia has a rich immigration history, and our immigrant community continues to thrive today. Many people in Philadelphia require assistance with immigration matters, and they place a tremendous amount of trust in immigration assistance service providers. These providers have a duty and responsibility to properly and legally serve their clients.

The work of immigration assistance providers can literally affect every facet of their client's life. The ability to live and work within the United States and to establish and maintain stable families and business relationships of many people with immigrant matters hinges on the work of such providers.

Given the size of Philadelphia's immigrant community, immigration assistance service providers have a significant impact on the social, cultural, and economic life of the City. Currently in Philadelphia we have no regulation of the practice of immigration assistance services. I believe this leaves people who require assistance with immigration matters vulnerable to exploitation, fraud, financial ruin, family upheaval due to the unscrupulous business practices of some of these providers.

And make no mistake, those knowingly and intentionally preying upon and deceiving our immigrant population are committing a fraud. People who require assistance with immigration matters deserve to know the exact scope of work to be performed by a service provider. There needs to be built in assurances that they are getting proper assistance and have some recourse should they be wronged by an assistance provider, because the consequences can be steep and life-altering.

Last week, I introduced a bill that will create licensing standards for those providing immigration services. The intent of my legislation is to give immigrants and persons who require assistance with immigration matters clarity about how immigration services should be handled from an ethical, fair, and honest business practices and preserve public confidence.

Earlier this week, the Public Safety Committee held a hearing on this issue, which is also commonly referred to as notario fraud. At our hearing we had several courageous and brave victims testify about the devastating impact of this fraud. We also had a variety of stakeholders, including the Federal Trade Commission, the District Attorney's Office, and the Police Department, testify and amplify how this fraud is perpetrated upon victims and present solutions to stop it.

I believe the thoughtful and appropriate legislation I introduced presents an opportunity to stop the exploitation and the fraud in our immigrant community. This legislation is a step in the right direction, and I look forward to the ensuing dialogue and the effort to find good solutions.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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