Hiring a nonlawyer to do legal work carries the risk of a bad outcome, but the stakes can be especially high for immigrants. Misfiled forms or missed deadlines can lead to deportation.

Legal fraud targeting immigrants is on the rise, according to immigration lawyers who blame confusion arising from the political debate over immigration reform. Washington-area civil legal services groups recently sued the Federal Trade Commission for access to a national database of consumer complaints, saying the information would aid in the fight against fraud that affects immigrants and other vulnerable or low-income communities.

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