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According to a study by the University of San Diego Law School, this backlog created conditions which caused consular officers to see the detection of fraud as their major function. The authors of that study, as well as many of our respondents, described often rather harsh interrogation practices. The presence of consulates outside the U.S. also means that basic constitutional rights do not have to be observed by U.S. consular officers. Decisions by consular officers are not subject to appeal. U.S. law puts them in the position of making decisions as to whether applicants are “likely to become a public charge” and whether applicants have enough documentary evidence to support their applications. The San Diego study reported that the discretionary use of these two provisions alone accounted for 95% of all visa denials, even though there are 32 provisions under the law by which a potential immigrant can be denied a visa. Many attorneys claim to be able to help applicants avoid visa denials. And for some attorneys, immigration law can be a lucrative specialty. Some make their money by turning their offices into what our respondents called “visa mills,” while others specialize in defense of aliens facing prosecution or deportation. Some of the attorneys who go the visamill route find that clerks and paralegals can handle the bulk of the work and that a large volume \(in some cases over a very comfortable income. There are currently approximately 700 members of the Association of Immigration and Naturalization Lawyers in the U.S. The national treasurer of this organization estimated that there are 700 additional lawyers who practice immigration law at least part time. In the South Texas area where we did the major portion of our research, we identified approximately two dozen attorneys involved in this work. The fee for filing for a visa can run to $500 per person, but the actual filing is frequently handled by a clerk in a matter of minutes. It is then a matter of waiting, often for several years, until notice comes from a consulate and/or INS to appear. One attorney reportedly revealed to his clients, after their first year of waiting, that the fee they had paid was only a yearly retainer and that they needed to come up with the same amount each year, even if no action was needed on their case. Some attorneys refuse to return the papers of clients who wish to terminate attorney services or who found themselves unable to pay the fee. Our respondents also reported a va riety of other techniques used to generate income for some immigration attorneys. The most common and widely used is the “permiso” letter, a legallooking document sold by many attorneys and notarios. It is generally issued only for a short period of time, usually a month or two. Each extension generally costs from $25 to $45, which is assessed in addition to the original fee. Those who buy such letters are generally led to believe that the “permiso” is a legal permit to remain and work in the U.S. In actuality, it merely informs INS agents that an attorney is seeking to file for a visa and does not stop them from arresting or deporting the alien. Some argue that it may be useful if Border Patrol agents do not want to “hassle” with attorneys, but its utility beyond generating additional income for attorneys and notarios is doubtful. Another complaint against some attorneys was that they seldom gave any personal attention to a client, especially after an initial visit. Others alleged that a few attorneys take “hopeless” cases without revealing the improbability of ever getting a visa. Still others reported that a few attorneys who lack training in immigration law take immigration cases, often to the detriment of their clients. In a few cases, it was alleged that some also provided fraudulent documents or arranged “convenience marriages” for substantial sums. As in any profession, abuses by a few members are not unusual. When the client population is powerless to protest abuse, however, the potential for more extensive exploitation is increased. We found several immigrants who were fully aware of the abuses, but continued to pay because they could see no other recourse. Who is going to complain against their attorney when the attorney has all the papers and can turn them in to INS with a simple phone call? Many wait patiently, hoping that they can hang on long enough to finally get a visa. They often get to the end of an expensive wait only to have the visa denied. Before the congressionally-mandated prohibition against using federal funds to assist the undocumented, legal-aid agenbeen instrumental in the establishment of many precedent-setting decisions of benefit to the undocumented. In the Silva vs. Levi case for example, a legalaid office managed to force the INS to turn 144,000 visa slots over to Mexican and other Latin-American applicants, most of whom were already in the U.S. With the congressional restriction of federal funds prohibiting legal-aid agencies from helping the undocumented, many legal-aid attorneys have had to go into private practice. In this capacity, Information for Historians, Researchers, Nostalgia Buffs, & Observer Fans Bound Volumes: The 1981 bound issues of The Texas Observer are now ready. In maroon, washable binding, the price is $20. Also available at $20 each are volumes for the years 1963 through 1980. Cumulative Index: The clothbound cumulative edition of The Texas Observer Index covering the years 19541970, plus annual supplements through 1978, may be obtained for $20. A second cumulative edition from 1971 through 1981 will be available by mid-year. Back Issues: Issues dated January 10, 1963, to the present are available at 75 cents per issue. Earlier issues are out of stock, but photocopies of articles from issues dated December 13, 1954, through December 27, 1962, will be provided at 75 cents per article. Microfilm: The complete backfile Individual years may be ordered separately. To order, or to obtain additional information regarding the 35mm microfilm editions, please write to Microfilming Corporation of America, 1620 Hawkins Avenue, Box 10, Sanford, N.C. 27330. server Busineis Office. Texas residents pleaie add the 5% sales tax to your remittance. Materials will be sent postpaid. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 600 W. 7 ST. AUSTIN 78701 6 JUNE 18, 1982