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- 07-06-2012, 09:57 AM #1
But what if Romney wins, DREAMers ask attorneys
But what if Romney wins, DREAMers ask attorneys
By Steve Taylor
Carlos M. Garcia is a partner in Garcia & Garcia, Attorneys at Law. The firm has offices in McAllen and Austin
EDINBURG, June 27 - What will happen to President Obama’s new immigration initiative if Mitt Romney wins the presidency in November?
This was one of the questions students and parents had for two immigration attorneys at two lively and informative Right to DREAM forums hosted by the University of Texas Pan American’s Minority Affairs Council (MAC) on Tuesday evening. More than 200 people attended the events. One was held in English and the other in Spanish.
MAC was recently voted Best New Student Group at UTPA. It is affiliated with the national United We Dream group.
The two immigration attorneys fielding the questions and explaining the Obama administration’s new Administrative Relief initiative were McAllen-based Carlos M. Garcia, a partner in Garcia & Garcia, Attorneys at Law, and Edinburg-based Lauren Joyner, of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
“We do not know what will happen if Romney wins.” Garcia said. “It just does not seem right that they would come in and take this deferred action program away. But, we never know what will happen. We believe it will continue but we do not know for how long.”
President Obama signed Administrative Relief initiative into law on June 15. It allows undocumented immigrants who came into the United States under the age of 15 to avoid deportation and sign up for a work permit that lasts for two years. They have to be 30 years of age or under and must have lived in the United States for five continuous years.
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants will benefit from deferred action. More details on the policy are anxiously awaited by DREAMers and immigration attorneys.
Students and parents asked Garcia and Joyner if, under “deferred action,” DREAMers would be able to sign up for another two years, once their work permit has expired. “They can renew, again and again, but if there is a change in administration or a change in mindset and they can take that away in a second,” Garcia told the Guardian.
The attorneys were also asked if, under Administrative Relief, undocumented immigrants will be able to change their status and become citizens. “Right now that is not the thinking but who knows what can happen. That is why there needs to be comprehensive immigration reform,” Garcia said.
Garcia and Joyner were also asked how Affirmative Relief might affect an undocumented immigrant’s chances of securing a driver’s license. The answer is that when you get a work permit you can go and get a social security number. Once you have a social security number you can go to the Department of Public Safety and get a driver’s license. Garcia said he does not know whether the State of Texas will change its laws regarding driver’s licenses in the light of the Obama administration’s new initiative.
Garcia and Joyner were also asked whether students can travel while applying for deferred action. The attorneys urged utmost caution. “You have to have a continuous presence for five years. You do not know what is going to break your continuous presence. You do not know what is going to happen if you try to come back into the United States. Don’t want to risk it at this point,” Garcia said.
The attorneys were also asked if family members might be put at greater risk if a student applies for deferred action. “The government has said you are not at greater risk. In our experience we do not see the government or immigration going after people who are filing affirmative petitions and putting themselves out there,” Garcia told the Guardian. “We have not seen it but it is definitely a risk to consider. You have to be aware that, yes, they are going to have your information. Probably not, but I cannot say for sure.”
What if an undocumented immigrant has been denied a permanent residency card before? Should they still apply for an affirmative petition under Administrative Relief? “Analyze it with your attorney. Some of the information that has come out has said even if you have a final order of removal you might still qualify so long as you meet the requirements that were set out by the government,” Garcia told the Guardian.
Garcia said that because of the Obama administration’s new initiative, he was able to secure the release of a student who had been locked up for one year at the immigration detention center in Bayview. “This person had been fighting an adjustment of status case. He had entered the country lawfully and is married to a U.S. citizen. However, he had some criminal issues which had been taken care of,” Garcia said.
Garcia said that when the Administrative Relief initiative was announced he was able to persuade deportation officers that his client qualified under the program. “They deemed that he probably qualified. It just depends on each case and each officer,” Garcia said.
The attorneys were asked what documentation was needed to prove a person has five years continuous presence in the country. Joyner said that in addition to school records, Facebook pages, texts, letters from teachers, professors, and coworkers would all help. “Anything that can help show you have been in the country,” Joyner said.
Garcia recommended students with a criminal record get certified copies of the judgment and complaint. An attorney can then determine if that record will prevent an affirmative petition. “I definitely recommend always talking to an attorney who is knowledgeable about immigration laws and how these programs work. They can make an informed decision. They can help guide you along the process,” Garcia said.
In his interview with the Guardian, Garcia said that while Administrative Relief is welcome for those living in the shadows, it is not the long term answer to the nation’s broken immigration system.
“It is a great program but people should still be striving for comprehensive immigration reform. People like the students here today have done a great job in making sure this issue is in the spotlight. It is a very important issue. The struggle is not over. More is needed. This is not a permanent fix,” Garcia said.
Asked what his overall message is to undocumented immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley who might be considering taking advantage of the new immigration initiative, Garcia said: “My overriding message is they need to really scrutinize their case, they need to be very careful when applying. This is a great benefit, but you need to be very careful you are not going to put yourself in an unnecessary risky situation. You do not want to set yourself up for problems with immigration. If you qualify, go for it, figure it out, make sure you do everything the right way. If you do not qualify, go to an attorney and see if there is another way.”
But what if Romney wins, DREAMers ask attorneys | RioGrandeGuardian.com | news source for the border
Last edited by HAPPY2BME; 09-03-2012 at 12:10 PM.U.S. Constitution - Article IV, Section 4: GUARANTEES AMERICA FROM INVASION!