SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed into law Senate Bill 2548 to help reduce the language barriers that many immigrants face in trying to access and secure reliable and accurate legal advice.
"I'm signing this bill today because we need to protect Illinoisans from deception and fraud," the Governor said. "It is far too easy to take advantage of individuals who may not fully understand our legal system, especially if English is their second language. Hopefully, this bill will help to level the playing field for our immigrant community."
Though “notario” translates to “notary” in English, the literal Spanish translation of “notario” is “attorney.” In many cases, so-called “notarios” provide legal advice, analysis or legal judgment to many Spanish speakers even though they are not attorneys, and not licensed to provide such advice.
Senate Bill 2548 was sponsored by Sen. Martin A. Sandoval (D-Cicero) and Rep. Frank Aguilar (R-Cicero). The new law amends the Illinois Notary Public Act and the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act in an attempt to minimize the challenges Illinois’ immigrant population face in their attempts to gain legal advice. The bill clarifies the role of “notario” (notary) and a “notario publica” (notary public) and prohibits a notary public, unless he or she is also an attorney, from accepting fees for immigration advice or other assistance. The bill also requires that non-English advertisements include a notice that the notary public is not an attorney. Finally, the bill works to ensure that violations of these rules are subject to fines, business office penalties, and commission revocation.
"This bill is so important to the Latino community,” said Sen. Sandoval. “With it, we are providing much needed protection to thousands of immigrants who might be taken advantage of by individuals who say they are offering legal advice, when in fact they have neither the training or background to do so.”
SB 2548 is effective immediately.