The Indiana Attorney General’s Office filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday against an Indianapolis business for allegedly performing immigration services without proper licensing and training.
The complaint names The Mexican Civic Association of Indiana Inc. and M. Esther Barber, operating as Asociacion Civica Mexicana De Indiana Inc. at 2226 Shelby St.
Barber, who is not an attorney, is accused of knowingly violating the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act by providing advice without the required licensing and training, according to the suit.
The Attorney General’s Office alleges that Barber has advertised herself to the Spanish-speaking community as someone who can assist with immigration issues. Since 2006, she has allegedly prepared immigration forms for consumers for a fee, in violation of Indiana law. Two consumers lodged complaints against her after the paperwork did not comply with legal requirements.
The Attorney General’s Office is seeking an injunction against Barber to prevent her from advising consumers about immigration policies, preparing forms on their behalf or accepting payment for attorney services without a license to practice law.
Barber has been a public critic of immigration-reform efforts before the Indiana legislature.
The suit also seeks consumer restitution for unlawfully obtained funds, civil penalties of up to $5,000 for each violation and up to $500 for each intentional violation of the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.
“It is important that foreign nationals who wish to follow the law and get their immigration paperwork in order not be deceived by fraudsters motivated by fees who are unqualified to give proper advice,” Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a prepared statement.
Zoeller filed the suit in Marion Superior Court. He also filed a similar complaint against a Fort Wayne business, United Hispanic Caring Hearts, in Allen Circuit Court.