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Under a new government policy, young immigrants brought to this country illegally as children can apply for deferred deportation and temporary work permits beginning this week.
Lawyer Cecilia Rodriguez of the American Immigration Lawyers Association says it’s important for undocumented young people, known as DREAMers, to get reputable legal advice.
“We are becoming concerned that non-attorneys, such as notarios, are looking for an opportunity to make easy money at the expense of a DREAMer’s future,” Lawyer Rodriguez said.
According to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities HACU about 140,000 illegal immigrants in the United States are enrolled in college and more than 80,000 already hold a college degree.
“HACU created the Act on the DREAM Coalition in 2010 to urge passage of the DREAM Act and allow qualified young people the chance to make their contribution to the American dream” said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores.
One of those young people eligible for the program is 20 year old Suzy Escobar. Her parents brought her when she was 11 years old to New York. She will submit the application this Wednesday.
“I came to this country when I was eleven years old and went to high school here. I worked hard to go to college and was in constant fear of getting caught by “La Migra” and I was worried that I could never find work because I had no papers” Escobar said.
The DREAMers often have service jobs that pay cash, either in wages or tips, working as restaurant staff members, home cleaners, baby sitters, with some others starting their own businesses off the books.
“Now I can dream of actually accomplishing my goals. Getting a work permit would mean getting a social security number, a license, and the ability to work legally in the United States.” said 24 year old Milton Jaimes who is in his second year of studies to become an Emergency Medical Technician in New Jersey.
For those whose dreams of college were frustrate because they cannot afford to pay tuition with low-income jobs, now it’s the opportunity to apply for professional gigs with the work permit in hand. The permits will also serve as proof of legal residence, allowing the DREAMers to get driver’s licenses.
And while opponents of President Obama’s policy call it amnesty, the plan that’s taking place next week is an administrative action, which means if the President doesn’t win reelection, this new deportation policy could change.
Why Dreamers Need Lawyers
Although it may be the best alternative for many DREAMers, applying for Deferred Action does have risks and they need to understand those before they present their documents.
Having the legal expert on your side it is also the choice of documents being presented and how to do it the proper way.
Depending on the guidelines that are published, Deferred Action may not be the best choice for everyone. Sometimes other alternatives may be available that have not been explored if you have never spoken to an attorney about your situation.
If your case is not clear cut, you have never done any complex paperwork like this before, and would rather let a professional do it right, it makes sense to get professional legal help.
According to immigration Lawyer Cecilia Rodriguez for some people, prior crimes or other behavior may make you ineligible and applying could lead to start of deportation.
“It is important to assess your person’s immigration and criminal history to make sure that they qualify for this benefit. For example, young people with felony convictions, even some types of misdemeanors will be ineligible to apply for this benefit and it could be complicated”.
The government will decide what documentation is acceptable, but if you don’t have those documents, attorneys often can help you figure out alternatives or ways to get them.
On August 15 the USCIS will begin accepting requests for the also known as “Deferred Action” together with applications for employment authorization from persons who are at least 15 years of age and meet the specific criteria below:
• They entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday
• They have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012, and were in the U.S. on that date.
• They were under the age of 31, as of June 15, 2012.
• As of the date their request is submitted, applicants must be currently in school; or have graduated from high school or obtained a GED; or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or the Armed Forces.
• They have not been convicted a felony offense; a “significant” misdemeanor offense; 3 or more misdemeanor offenses; or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
The total Application fee will be $465. The Deferred action will be offered for a two-year period and may be renewed.
Stay away from scammers
Needless to say DREAMers should not work with anyone who does not have a law office and is operating legally.
“Notarios” are so-called immigration experts may use the announced Deferred Action for DREAMers program as an opportunity to take advantage of foreign nationals by deceiving them into paying expensive fees for their assistance.
Immigration consultants, notaries public, and notarios cannot legally represent you in the immigration process, so if someone cannot demonstrate to you that they are not a qualified lawyer, run fast.
Be aware that Notarios may misrepresent the DREAM Deferred Action program as a “new law” or as a “path to immigration status” as a scam to prey on undocumented students who are desperate.
Avoid notario fraud. If something sounds too good to be true it probably is.