Undocumented Students Making the Immigration DREAM a Reality
Under a new government policy, as of August 15 young immigrants brought to this country illegally as children can apply for deferred deportation and temporary work permits.
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,” 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, whose parents brought her to New York at the age of 11. She will submit an application on Wednesday.
“I came to this country when I was 11 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.
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“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 studying to become an emergency medical technician in New Jersey.
For those with low-income jobs whose dreams of attending college were frustrated by the inability to afford tuition, receiving a temporary work permit would give them the opportunity to apply for white collar jobs. The permits will also serve as proof of legal residence, allowing the DREAMers to get driver’s licenses.
While opponents of President Obama’s policy call it amnesty, the plan is actually an administrative action, which means if the President doesn’t win reelection, this new deportation policy could change. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has already stated that he will rescind the act if he is elected.
Do DREAMers Need Lawyers?
Although it may be the best option for many DREAMers, applying for deferred action does have risks. Having a legal expert on your side will help you choose which documents to present and the proper way to submit them.
However, deferred action may not be the best choice for everyone. There may be other alternatives that haven’t been explored. An attorney can help you evaluate your situation and choose the option that’s best for you. If your case is not clear cut or you have never filed complex paperwork like this, it makes sense to get professional legal help.
According to lawyer Rodriguez, there are a variety of factors that could impact eligibility. Applicants with a criminal record, for example, may be ineligible, and applying for deferment could lead to the start of deportation proceedings.
“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; if you don’t have the required documents, an attorney can often help you figure out alternatives or ways to get them.
The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service will begin accepting applications for deferred action, together with applications for employment authorization from persons who are at least 15 years of age and meet specific criteria. The total application fee will be $465. 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 degree or isn’t operating legally.
“Notarios” presenting themselves as immigration experts may use the deferred action program as an opportunity to take advantage of foreign nationals by misrepresenting the program as a new law or as a path to immigration status. Be aware that immigration consultants, notaries public, and notarios cannot legally represent you in the immigration process.
Avoid notario fraud. If something sounds too good to be true it probably is.