Saturday, July 7, 2012

DREAMers - Watch Out for Unscrupulous "Immigration Helpers"

DREAM Act Related Fraud Already Running Rampant

By Sara Inés Calderón

Less than two weeks after President Barack Obama announced administrative relief for certain DREAM Act-eligible immigrants, anecdotal evidence suggests that some may be trying to take advantage of these families by making big promises for huge fees.
In some Latin American countries, a “notario” is akin to an attorney — in the U.S. this is not the case.  Latino immigrants often fall victim to unscrupulousnotarios who make unfounded promises related to immigration paperwork at a huge financial (and emotional) cost to them.
It’s no different with the new DREAMer administrative relief, which allows them to live and work in the U.S. via this new legal procedure. It applies to people with no documentation between 15 and 30 years old (under 31), who entered the U.S. before the age of 16, have lived here since, are not criminals, are in school or have a high school credential. There is also mention of being honorably discharged from the military.
Anecdotal stories are running rampant throughout the country. Photos of attorneys asking for thousands of dollars to process paperwork that does not yet exist have appeared on Facebook, some organizations are even keeping a running tally of such photos. It’s to the point that Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez even posted a notice to social networking sites telling people — specifically — to avoid scams from notarios.
“It’s really appalling to see how these people are lying,” said Adrian Reyna, Vice President of the University Leadership Initiative, an organization at the University of Texas, Austin advocating for the DREAM Act. “It does not respect their dignity as human beings to try to scam them out of three, four thousand dollars.”
Reyna said he’s been trying to work to educate the public about these scams, but was saddened to realize that, ultimately, some desperate families will likely fall victim to notario-type fraud.
“Being undocumented is desperate. It’s not something that you like, or that is easy, so you are willing to take that extra step in trying to get away from it,” and that is the point at which fraud becomes possible, Reyna explained.
So this is what is legit. San Francisco-based immigration attorney Randall Caudle said that, at this point, the only thing attorneys can really do is consult with clients and advise them to begin to collect paperwork that documents their presence in the U.S. within the required timeframe. The agency responsible for creating the procedure to administer this process, USCIS, has until August 13 to create their process, he said.
Neither AILA nor the USCIS recommends notarios; bad advice could have some end up in removal proceedings.
There were a few interesting points that Caudle highlighted with regard to this process. One, which has not been widely reported, according to a call with USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas last week, the process applies to people who are under 31, which is to say, you can be over 30 to be eligible. What’s more, those with final orders of removal may still be eligible for this relief, and Caudle speculated that those whose applications are not approved may not necessarily be deported, since the government still has prosecutorial discretion to decide who to deport.
He also highlighted the fact that the military component of this relief is “mostly PR” because the most likely way for someone with no papers to get into the military is via fraudulent documents. And the new process will most likely not allow for these DREAMers to enter the military either, since they won’t have legal status. Caudle also mentioned that he doubted Mitt Romney, if elected, could realistically undo this process without suffering heavy political ramifications.
There are a few other things to keep in mind, Caudle said:
o    Gather documentation to show you were in the country before June 15, 2007, this includes school records, medical records, or financial records like utility bills. You need to show that you have been here continuously since then, up to June 15, 2012.
o    You will need a passport from your country of origin.
o    You should get your birth certificate from your country of origin.
o    Don’t commit any crimes, this will make you inadmissible for this relief; this includes a DUI, drug possession or a hit and run accident.
Here is a list of resources for those seeking more information about how to approach this process:
o    AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) is organizing a volunteer group of immigration attorneys to work with DREAMers on a pro bono basis.
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Is the glass half empty of half full?

While the reactions from Dreamers across the country are very different, we could all agree that it is something to be excited about, or as someone wrote on facebook earlier today, all dreamers agree that although not sure how full the glass is, there is definitely water in it.

We all understand the naked policy going on here. We understand what President Obama is doing and I will give him credit for playing the political game, the dirty political game. You know what though? That is ok with me, I will eat the cake as someone put it, if it means that my best friend won't get deported next year and can finally use her college degree and help her mom pay for all of their medical needs for her sister, if it means that they will have steady rent for a while, if it means that our conversations will not be as frustrating about what she could do to survive... I will eat that cake and all others that Obama wants to give us if it means that my friends can finally work and if it means that this will bring some peace and certainty to their lives. I definitely remain optimistic, but i also remain very skeptical on how this will affect many of our Dreamers.

There are many things to consider regarding yesterday's news and we cannot mislead dreamers to start sending applications to USCIS. No. There are loopholes and many factors to consider before we start sending everyone to get a work permit. Please analyze them in the links provided.

Citizen Orange did a fantastic job in summarizing the Pros and Cons on Janet Napolitano's Memo. Please take a careful look at it and share it with others.

Also, USCIS just published on their website the Deferred Action Process. It is a very informative section with a Q & A.

Pros and Cons as Outlined in Citizen Orange:

  • It allows people to apply affirmatively, not just after they have been caught up in the deportation process. This will potentially benefit a much greater number of people than previous guidance.
  • Work permits are available. Many, though not all, of applicants granted deferred action will be eligible for work permits.
  • A two year period of deferred action will be granted to successful applicants.
  • The policy affects all three immigration agencies. Today's policy memo follows a series of similar memos over the past two years which have done little to stem the tide of record deportations under this president. Previous guidance on exercising prosecutorial discretion in line with enforcement priorities was directed only to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which ignored the guidance. Today's memo comes from Secretary Napolitano and is directed to all three agencies: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and ICE. Hopefully the policy will be applied more comprehensively across the agencies than the prosecutorial discretion policy has been.
  • USCIS will have more control over the process. The majority of applications will be reviewed by USCIS, which adjudicates applications for immigration benefits and is not formally tasked with immigration enforcement.
  • This is not an executive order. The policy does not grant Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) or Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which are designated by the President by executive order on humanitarian grounds. Even though the President decides who does or doesn't qualify for TPS and DED, these statuses carry certain due process protections. Applications can be appealed in immigration court if initially denied. TPS or DED status cannot be terminated without cause. In contrast, the policy announced today only grants deferred action. There is no right to appeal a denial. While applicants can ask for supervisory review of an initial denial, that supervisory decision will be final.