Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Department of Justice orders Ceja Enterprises out of immigration business

Nashville "notario" Ceja Enterprises, Inc. has recently received notice from the Department of Justice that it must pull out of the immigration business. According to a May 11 cease and desist letter, Ceja Enterprises has been misrepresenting that it is authorized to represent expatriates before the various federal immigration agencies. The letter advises that "any further attempts to represent individuals before these agencies will be a violation of federal regulations."

According to the letter, the federal regulation that authorizes groups to represent individuals in immigration proceedings is 8 C.F.R. 292.2(a) and is available to recognized non-profit religious, charitable, social service, or similar organizations established in the United States which charge only nominal fees and have adequate knowledge, information, and experience in the area of immigration and nationality law. The letter states that Ceja Enterprises, Inc. is not a recognized organization pursuant to that regulation.

The letter was sent to Ceja Enterprises' principal Carmen Ceja by Jennifer J. Barnes, Bar Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Justice. Copies of the letter went to Tom Davis, Memphis Immigration Court Administrator; Rachel McCarthy, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security; and Nashville attorney Sean Lewis. Mr. Lewis is one of a group of Nashville attorneys targeting the unauthorized practice of law by notarios.

This is Ceja's second recent run-in with federal law enforcement. The Nashville Business Journal reported last month that Ceja Enterprises was under a criminal investigation by the Internal Revenue Service.

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