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Under a new White House policy, immigrants brought here illegally as children can apply for deferred deportation and temporary work permits. But so-called DREAMers are being warned to proceed cautiously.
After the President announced the new deportation policy last month, many opponents said it amounted to amnesty for undocumented immigrants, but a group of immigration attorneys is warning that it’s anything but.
The Arizona chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association says immigrants covered by the new rules should wait to apply for deferred action or a work permit until more information is available.
Organizations including the Arizona State Bar, Somos America, Friendly House, and the AILA have joined in a campaign called "No DREAM Deferred."
They’re planning weekly forums to educate undocumented immigrants, and to provide free legal advice about deferred deportation and work permits.
"The DREAMers are a particularly vulnerable population, not only because a lot of them are young," said Regina Jefferies AILA's Arizona chair. "They need access to good information and may not have the resources to get that information like their parents might have."
Delia Salvatierra of the State Bar says it’s important for undocumented young people, known as DREAMers, to get reputable legal advice.
“We are becoming increasingly concerned that non-attorneys, such as notarios, are looking for an opportunity to make a quick buck at the expense of a DREAMer’s future," Salvatierra said. "We will not allow that.”
Notarios are known for falsely claiming they can help people gain legal status. "No DREAM Deferred" aims to provide a trustworthy source of legal guidance.
"Be patient," Jefferies said. "If you have questions about this, talk to a licensed attorney, because there's no substitution for good advice. If you get the wrong advice, it's possible that this could stick with you for the rest of your life."
And while opponents of President Obama’s policy call it amnesty, the plan is an administrative action, which means if the President doesn’t win reelection, the deportation policy could change.
Daniel Rodriguez is a DREAM Act student and organizer. To politicians thinking about reversing the new rules, Rodriguez says, “Bring it.”
The first workshop is scheduled for this Saturday at Friendly House. "No DREAM Deferred" is planning more events at other nonprofits in Phoenix, as well as in Tucson, Flagstaff, and Yuma.
Updated 7/12/2012 at 2:34 p.m.