Officials at the “Know Your Rights” seminar at St. Francis of Assisi Parish on 33rd Street in Manhattan on July 6.
More and more DREAMers, the young immigrants covered by the administrative relief announced last month by President Barack Obama, are reportedly being taken advantage of by unscrupulous immigration attorneys and notary public telling them they must pay as much as $4,000 to move ahead with deferred action.
Various stories and reports are running rampant across 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, according to politics365.com.
It’s so widespread now to the point that Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez even posted a notice to social networking sites telling people to avoid scams from notarios, the same site said.
San Francisco-based immigration attorney Randall Vaudle 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 United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the agency responsible for creating the procedure to administer this process, has until Aug. 13 to create the process, Vaudel noted.
The fraud issue is also addressed by the Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund (FALDEF) in its “Know Your Rights” seminars conducted together with the Philippine Consulate General and the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).
The next “Know Your Rights” seminar are slated on July 27, Aug. 24 and Sept. 28, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the FALDEF office at Lovin Life Center, 4 West 43rd Street, Suite 505, New York, NY 10038.
On July 6, the seminar was held for the first time at St. Francis of Assisi Parish on 33rd Street in Manhattan.
It was arranged by the parish-based Fil-Am group headed by Zenaida Avila and attended by several parishioners.
On hand to provide information on the latest U.S. immigration developments, including the Dreamers’ initiative signed by the President on June 15, was Atty. J.T. Mallonga of Abad, Constancio & Mallonga and president of FALDEF; and Atty. Rio Guerrero of Guerrero Yee LLP, who spoke on labor lights.
Mallonga expounded on Mr. Obama’s executive order (EO) which grants relief from deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before they were 16 and provided they have not yet reached 31 years old by the date of the signing of the EO.
Qualified DREAMers must have also lived continuously in the U.S. for five years, free of any criminal record, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military.
The new initiative likewise allows qualified persons to apply for a renewable two-year work permit.
Mallonga explained that at this time, they are still awaiting guidelines and application forms from the government on the Dreamers’ Initiative.
He advised those who may qualify to start preparing their documents such as birth certificates, school or academic records, passport from the country of origin, and military service records, if any, in anticipation of the high volume of applications beginning next month.
Guerrero, on the other hand, briefed the audience on new labor regulations on minimum wages, unemployment insurance and other employment-related concerns.
At the same time he provided information on the different U.S. agencies they could seek assistance from in New York regarding labor matters.
During an open forum moderated by Consul Felipe Carino, head of the Consulate’s Assistance-to-Nationals Section which organized the event, the resource persons, as well as Deputy Consul General Theresa Dizon-de Vega answered queries on dual citizenship, conversion of visas, the Dreamer’s initiative, unemployment insurance and permanent residency petitions, among other things.