Immigration Lawyers Welcome President’s Action, Caution Community Against Scammers

LOS ANGELES, CA- The Southern California chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed President Obama’s executive action which will offer some protections for vulnerable members of the community.
“This plan is a long time in coming,” said AILA Chapter Chair Heather L. Poole. She continued, “As immigration attorneys, we see the results of our broken system every day and in the absence of Congressional action, the President had to act. While a lot of the details are still waiting to be filled in, we know that many of these changes will make a real impact.” . . . .
Included in the far-ranging plan are some key items:
  • Deferred Action for the parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children who have no criminal background and have been residing in the US for at least five years. This new measure would provide temporary relief from removal for these individuals – keeping families together and providing work authorization that will lead to more taxes being paid and a boost to the local and national economy.
  • Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to remove the age cap and move the continuous presence date up to January 1, 2010. DACA will now be granted for 3 years (including those with pending renewal applications).
  • Allowing spouses and children of lawful permanent residents to apply for unlawful presence waivers from within the U.S. and ensuring appropriate standards for adjudicating those waivers.
  • Enabling families of individuals trying to enlist in the armed forces to utilize parole in place to ensure legal status.
  • Changing the procedures for adjustment of status to allow legal immigrants caught in the immigration quota backlogs to register their applications and thus begin the final step of the process.
The chapter is extremely concerned that many immigrants will be taken advantage of by notarios and unlicensed operators – immigration consultants, document preparers, and paralegals who see a money-making opportunity, despite the potential damage that can be done by giving the wrong legal advice and taking money out of the pockets of the most vulnerable when no relief is available.
Chapter Chair Heather L. Poole concluded, “As lawyers, we see the havoc wreaked by unlicensed notarios and immigration consultants who are practicing law without a license. Immigration law is a lot more complicated than the public thinks – it’s not about just filling out forms. Immigration law is unforgiving – one small mistake and your chances of relief can be destroyed forever. Stay away from these individuals and watch out for scams. The reality is that no new application forms are available yet and the guidelines that will determine eligibility are not yet finalized. There is nothing to apply for yet. Watch out for scammers who promise eligibility now. Don’t let someone ruin your chances for possible benefit; seek qualified counsel for these important decisions.”
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