Good advice regarding “deferred action”
According to recent polls, US voters approve the decision by President Obama to suspend deportation threats against an estimated 800,000 young immigrants by a 2 to 1 margin. Nationwide, nearly 9 in 10 Latinos favored Obama's policy shift.
Locally, a number of South Georgia professionals also expressed support for the plan which would not provide a path to citizenship but would issue 2-year work permits to qualified young Hispanics between the ages of 15 and 30.
For educator Javier Gonzalez, the plan provides new incentives for young migrant students served by the high school equivalency program (HEP) he has led at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) since 2003. The HEP program helps migrant and seasonal farm workers and their dependent children to obtain the equivalence of a High School Diploma and to gain employment or be placed in an institution of higher education or vocational training.
Gonzalez said that, in the past, some students eligible to participate in HEP were discouraged by the fact that their legal status made them ineligible to benefit from completing their educations. One of the five most important qualifications that applicants for the deferred-action must meet is that they are currently in school, have graduated from high school, or have obtained a general education development certificate. Gonzalez says that enrolling in the HEP program this fall will allow migrant students to qualify for the 2-year work permits.
“The biggest obstacle was the thought that a GED would not benefit them in this country and because the GED is not officially recognized in Mexico, they did not see the benefit to them in their own country,” Gonzalez said. “This initiative will alleviate some of those concerns because of the
fact that it emphasizes education as a main criteria for benefitting from it. With this initiative, those persons that have received a GED or are enrolled in GED instruction will fulfill the education criteria.”
Gonzalez also feels that the economic benefits the US derives from the presence of this new work force will have a positive impact on the political debate surrounding immigration reform. “I believe that this initiative has the potential to influence true national discussion about the DREAM ACT due to the positive impact it could have on the economy.” (For more information about eligibility requirements for the HEP program please refer to contact information available at the bottom of this page.)
Local immigration attorney, Lyon Jemison, estimates that he has over 50 clients who could benefit from this proposal but cautioned that applicants who don't meet the new plan's requirements could be subject to deportation.
“Anyone with a criminal record or with a prior deportation at the border or within the US must get legal advice first,” Jemison said. “This deferred action applies to people under 30 even if they have received an order of removal. But if someone applies and is not eligible, USCIS will likely default to its
case-by-case review criteria to determine whether an action against them will be taken or not. I do not advise anyone do this without legal advice. There is a lot of room for error and definite deportation consequences if the wrong facts surface.”
William (Guillermo) & Jennifer Royse started “La Oficina” in Bluffton, SC, 12 years ago. Their bilingual staff offers a variety of services of special importance to the area's Hispanic residents including tax preparation, translation and interpreting services. They urge caution when looking for
information about Obama's new action.
“A google search of the term "deferred action" in English or "accion diferrida" en español brings up a number of sites that include outdated information that does not accurately report the facts concerning deferred action for young people who were brought to this country through no fault of their
own,” Bill Royse said. “The best source for information concerning this new opportunity are the US
government's own websites, www.uscis.gov and www.ice.gov. Any interested individuals may stop by La Oficina to receive a free printed copy of the latest, most accurate information released by these websites.
The following is a partial listing of information sources and advice regarding President Obama's “deferred-action” initiative.”
1) Javier Gonzalez, Tifton, Ga., Director of HEP at ABAC, 1-888-244-9096 Toll Free, firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Lyon Jemison,Richmond Hill, Ga., immigration attorney,404-590-2728, email@example.com
3) Balbo & Gregg, Richmond Hill, Ga, immigration attorneys, Toll Free: 866-734-7024
4) Joseph Berrigan, Savannah, Ga.,attorney, (912) 335-7094
5) Alan Ladd, Greenville, SC, immigration attorney, (864) 991-8450, firstname.lastname@example.org
6) Latin American Services Organization, Savannah, Ga., 912-238-2032, email@example.com
7) La Oficina, Bluffton, SC, 1-843-271-6439, firstname.lastname@example.org