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- 08-13-2012, 02:02 PM #1
15,000 illegal aliens in El Paso-area can apply for deferred deportation
15 ,000 undocumented immigrants in El Paso-area can apply for deferred deportation
by Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera \ El Paso Timeselpasotimes.com
Posted: 08/13/2012 12:00:00 AM MDT
Hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants across the country -- about 15,000 in the El Paso area -- will be able to start applying this week for protection from deportation and work permits under a new initiative from the Obama administration.
The offices of the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, or USCIS, will begin receiving applications starting Wednesday.
The initiative could mean work and temporary peace of mind for thousands of young people but immigrants' rights advocates are cautioning potential beneficiaries the measure is not perfect and may not be the right one for everybody.
President Barack Obama announced on June 15 a new program under which young undocumented immigrants may apply for deferred action -- which would exempt them from deportation for two years -- and permits to work legally in the country.
Specifically, the measure will affect people who entered the country before the age of 16, are younger than 30, have continuously lived in the United States for five years preceding the date of the memo, and have never been convicted of a felony, a serious misdemeanor or pose a threat to national security. Some people in removal proceedings may also be eligible, immigration specialists said.
They must also have graduated from high school, have a general educational development certificate or have served in the military.
According to estimates from the Washington D.C.-based Immigration Policy Center, or IPC, there are about 9,420 young people between the ages of 15 and 30 who could immediately benefit from the initiative in Texas' 16th Congressional District.
Another 6,210 young undocumented immigrants, who are between the ages of 5 and 14 years, could benefit in the future if they graduate from high school, obtain their GED or serve in the country's armed forces.
IPC estimates there are about 1.3 million immediate and future potential beneficiaries in the country. Some 226,700 live in Texas, the second state with the most potential beneficiaries in the country after California.
The measure has drawn both cautious praise and outright criticism.
Iliana Holguin, executive director of the Catholic Church's El Paso Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, or DMRS, said the program would help youths -- some of them with higher education degrees -- put their skills to work and contribute to the country's economy. However, it was an incomplete solution.
"I think it's definitely a step in the right direction and will provide tremendous benefits for young people who can't pursue a job right now, but unfortunately it's not a solution to the root of the problem," she said. "We need to have a way for these people to have lawful permanent resident status."
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, has criticized the measure mainly by questioning its cost.
"In order to process the millions of applications from illegal immigrants, the Obama administration will have to divert funding and other resources from processing legal immigration applications," Smith said in a statement earlier this month. "This will lead to a backlog for legal immigrants who followed the rules, while allowing lawbreakers to skip to the front of the line."
So far only a few details about the application are known, other than the program's launch date and the filing cost. Applicants will need to pay $465, which includes $380 for the employment authorization and $85 for a biometric background check, according to USCIS' website.
Immigration nonprofits and attorneys have already begun informing people about what little information is known about the process and the concerns around it.
Holguin said her organization has been organizing informative presentations about the program, and they have been widely attended. About 800 people have gone to the presentations they've hosted at 10 a.m. Tuesdays since President Obama announced the program, she said.
"The word is spreading, there are more people who are hearing about the availability of these benefits," Holguin said. When August 15 gets here we're going to see a lot of people who are going to want to apply."
The Mexican consulate in El Paso will also have an informative session Friday after details on the application process become public.
Even though the requirements of the application are still unclear, Holguin said people who are thinking about applying should begin putting their personal documents in order.
Holguin said applicants will need to prove their age and the amount of time they've been in the country, so birth certificates, school transcripts, medical records, rent agreements, and letters from teachers and church pastors might be useful documents to fetch.
On Sunday, The Mexican consulate will hold a day-long session to help would-be applicants obtain documents that might be necessary to provide for the program, like passports, consular IDs and birth certificates.
Consular officials asked people planning to attend to make an appointment at 1-877- MEXITEL (639-4835).
Immigrant advocates are urging would-be applicants to be cautious when applying to the program, educate themselves as much as possible about the process and beware of false immigration specialists.
In particular, Holguin said, people should look out for public notaries who might offer legal advice for a fee. Public notaries in Mexico have a wider range of legal functions, which has led some U.S. public notaries to try to take advantage of that confusion, she said.
"We really try to explain a notary is not an attorney," she said. "It's against the law to provide assistance in immigration if you're not a specialist."
Nevertheless, Holguin said, people should consult with an immigration attorney or non-profit about their particular situation before deciding whether or not to apply, as the program may not be their best option.
One of the concerns is how the information the federal government collects will be used, she said.
While the federal officials have stated the information will not be used for enforcement purposes in most cases, they also note that certain cases may be referred to immigration authorities if there is fraud or a serious criminal history.
Immigrants' advocates stress potential applicants should consult with a legal specialist and notify them of all run-ins with the law before filling out the form, as it is unclear what type of offenses may draw attention.
"You're evaluating someone on whether or not they meet this significant misdemeanor level. Your entire offense history will be considered. If you have a minor traffic offense, will it be considered? It will be assessed in a case-by-case basis," Walker said. "I really don't think that people should be wandering through this without obtaining appropriate legal council."
And even if an applicant has no criminal history, Holguin said she was wary of what might happen with applicants' information should there be a change in the White House.
"If a new administration comes in next year we have no way of knowing if the program will remain intact, if it will be terminated or what will be done with the information collected," she said. "That information will presumably always be in computer records, no one can guarantee what will be done years in the future."
Walker said that unlike the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act -- which granted amnesty to thousands of undocumented immigrants -- the deferred action program had not made any assurances about the applicants' confidentiality so far, which could represent a concern for the undocumented relatives of young people who apply.
Immigration advocates also stressed the deferred action program should not be confused for a version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act.
The deferred action program "is a good step but these benefits are only temporary," Holguin said. "We won't even know for how long they will exist. It stresses how important is to continue advocating for the DREAM Act."
Wendy Sefsaf, ICP's communications director, said the deferred action program didn't negate the need for the DREAM Act or immigration reform.
"I can't imagine anybody saying 'you have deferred action, what more that you want,'" she said. "The immigration forces want these kids to be citizens and vote. Anti-immigrants don't want to get them anything. I don't think anyone is saying this is a permanent solution."
Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6129. Follow him on Twitter @AlejandroEPT.
To qualify for deferred action, a person must:
Have been born after June 15, 1981.
Have arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16.
Have resided continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.
Have been in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.
Be in school, graduated from high school or received a GED, or be an honrably discharged veteran.
Be at least 15 years old to apply if not currently in removal proceedings.
15,000 undocumented immigrants in El Paso-area can apply for deferred deportation - El Paso TimesNO AMNESTY
DON'T REWARD THE CRIMINAL ACTIONS OF MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS
BY GIVING THEM CITIZENSHIP
- 08-14-2012, 09:30 AM #2
Volunteers needed to stop Obama Amnesty! Please help!
National Coalition Of Volunteers Needed to Stop Obama's Deferred Action Amnesty Order"The people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our Liberty"