Published on December 9, 2014
En Espanol: Información disponible para inmigrantes que podrían cumplir con los requisitos para acceder al alivio establecido por la acción ejecutiva
On Thursday, November 20, President Obama gave a speech announcing executive action on immigration. These new policies announced by President Obama will defer deportation and allow certain noncitizens to temporarily remain in the U.S., as well as obtain work and travel authorization. Katherine, a native of Marksville, Louisiana, had a hard time grasping how much that one-hour speech changed her life. Her husband, Marco, is from Honduras. He arrived without documents about twelve years ago. Katherine and Marco have been married for ten years and have three small children who are all United States citizens. When Katherine realized that Marco may qualify for one of the new “deferred action” programs, she burst into tears. Katherine said that the first thing she wants to do is go to the Alexandria zoo and take a picture with the Christmas lights, then “send a copy of our family photo to President Obama and say thank you. We could never go anywhere as a family before; we were afraid to go out.” Merry Christmas indeed!
There is a network of accredited organizations working to provide free or low-cost immigration legal services across Louisiana. These agencies include: the Central Louisiana Interfaith Immigration Center in Alexandria; the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy in Slidell; the LSU Law School Immigration Clinic, the Loyola New Orleans College of Law Immigration Clinic, and Catholic Charities of the Dioceses of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Shreveport. These organizations are ready to help eligible immigrants respond to this new opportunity, and are working hard to provide free and accurate information to immigrants who may be eligible for these new legal protections.
These organizations have observed that during periods of immigration reform, there are unfortunately unscrupulous attorneys and non-attorneys who take advantage of people seeking fast low-cost legal assistance. Although many people offer to help with immigration services, not all are authorized to do so. It important to avoid notario fraud by those who may offer to “sign you up now” for a fee. The reality is that the application process is NOT open yet. The government will not be accepting applications for another few months, no-one can sign you up now, and there is no priority “waitlist” for applications. http://www.uscis.gov is the government website with reliable information on who is eligible and when applications can be filed. Accurate information on President Obama’s new immigration policy is also available at: http://www.adminrelief.org.
You are encouraged to attend one of the many legal group information sessions being held across Louisiana to get complete and accurate information on whether you might qualify for deferral from deportation under these new “deferred action” policies and if so, what you can do to prepare:
New Orleans area:
– Immigration Services of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans is holding free group orientation sessions at its Catholic Charities office, San Martin’s Hall at 2505 Maine Avenue in Metairie, LA 70003. The first of these sessions will be held on January 8th at 7:00 pm. Space is limited, so advance registration is required and will be granted on a first-come first-serve basis. To register or to sign up to receive more details on this and future group orientation sessions, contact Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, Immigration and Refugee Services at: (504) 457-3462.
– The Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, a regional non-profit law and justice center, has a free information session scheduled at 10:00AM December 20th at Iglesia de Dios Getsemani, 2701 Transcontinental Dr., Metairie, LA. 70006. Space is limited and registration is required and will be granted on a first-come first serve basis. Please register by calling 504.739.9939 (se habla espanol) or e-mail [email protected]
– The Central Louisiana Interfaith Immigration Center (CLIIC) has scheduled free workshops on the new programs throughout December. The workshops will be held in:
- Alexandria on Mondays, December 8, 15, 22, and 29 at the Newman Outreach Center, 4210 South MacArthur Drive, from 2-7 PM;
- Forest Hill on Tuesdays, December 9, 16, 23, and 30 at Our Lady of Guadelupe, 10 Butter Cemetery Road, from 2-7 PM;
- Leesville on Wednesdays, December 10 and 17 and January 7 at St. Michael’s, 604 South 5th Street, from 2-7 PM; and
- Natchitoches on Thursdays, December 11 and 18 and January 8 at First United Methodist Church, 220 Amulet Street, from 7 AM to Noon.
– Migration/Refugee Services, Diocese of Lafayette. Beginning December 2nd – No appointment necessary. Walk-in consultations will be available every Tuesday and Thursday from 1:00 – 4:00 at the Diocese of Lafayette located at 1408 Carmel Drive in Lafayette, Louisiana in the offices of Migration & Refugee Services (excluding holidays). Evening & Saturday appointments available upon request. Staff is available for group discussions at other locations. Contact: Tina Quesada or Ana Gamboa.
Baton Rouge area:
– Catholic Charities Diocese of Baton Rouge has a free information session scheduled on December 11th from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library on 7711 Goodwood Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806.
Here are some of the basics on President Obama’s new relief from deportation policy:
- The Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) has been to defer deportation and permit more noncitizens to temporarily remain in the U.S.:
- If you arrived in the U.S. before your 16th birthday and have been in the U.S. since before January 1, 2010, you may now be eligible to apply for DACA no matter how old you are now (i.e. even if you were over age 31 on June 15, 2012);
- DACA for new first-time and renewal applicants will now be granted for relief from deportation for three years, not just two.
The government will begin accepting applications for the new DACA relief on or around February 20, 2015.
- A new program has been created called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). Like DACA, this is a temporary protection from deportation, with a grant of employment authorization. People who may qualify are those who:
- Have a son or daughter of any age who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and was born on or before November 20, 2014;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010;
- Were physically present in the United States on November 20, 2014, and at the time of making a DAPA request;
- Had no lawful status on November 20, 2014;
- Are not an “enforcement priority.” This is defined as people with certain criminal records and/or recent deportation orders. It will be important for people who may be in this category to get legal counseling from a licensed immigration attorney, accredited immigration representative, or accredited social service agency to find out if your criminal or immigration record affects your eligibility before applying.
- DAPA applicants who are approved will be granted for relief from deportation for three years.
The government will begin accepting applications for the new DAPA relief on or around May 20, 2015.
For more information:
Central La Interfaith Immigration Center in Alexandria http://www.diocesealex.org/immigration-legal-services
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans https://www.ccano.org/programs/hacs/
Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy in Slidell http://gcclp.org/legal-services/immigration
Migration and Refugee Services, Diocese of Lafayette http://www.diolaf.org/index.cfm?load=page&page=174
Catholic Charities Diocese of Baton Rouge http://ccdiobr.org/programs/migration-and-refugee-services.html
Catholic Charities of North Louisiana in Shreveport http://ccshpt.org/immigration.html
Loyola New Orleans College of Law, Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice http://www.loyno.edu/lawclinic/