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New York Officials Hail DACA, Warn People of “Fraudulent” Applications

New York Officials Hail DACA, Warn People of “Fraudulent” Applications

By Momar G. Visaya

Asian Journal
8/16/2012 10:24 pm

The New York Attorney General’s office, represented by Kristen Clarke, chief of the civil rights bureau, warned applicants to make sure that their applications are correct and reaffirmed their office’s commitment to curb immigration fraud.

“We are deeply committed to combatting immigration fraud and with this new process, I would like to let people know of their rights so that they don’t become fraud victims,” Clarke said during a meeting at the Baruch College Performing Arts Center.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services invited stakeholders to participate in the information session with NYC District Director Andrea J. Quarantillo, representatives of the NYC Mayor’s Office and its Office of Immigrant Affairs, the NY City Council, the NY State Attorney General’s Office, CUNY and others to learn about specific guidelines, benefits and filing procedures related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA allows certain individuals who meet specific guidelines to request consideration of deferred action from USCIS.

The guidelines shared by the Attorney General’s office focused on helping students file their requests for deferred action. The AG says that individuals can’t expedite applications, that no one can guarantee an approval and that only an attorney, the requestor or someone from BIA can apply for the requestor.

“If you meet someone who says he or she can guarantee the approval of your request or if you suspect that there’s fraud, we encourage you to call us at 1-866-390-2992,” Clarke said.

To qualify for the DACA program, applicants must be under age 31 (as of June 15, 2012), have lived in the US for five or more years consecutively, served in the military or  pursuing an education or have graduated from high school, have come to America before age 16, and have no significant criminal record. Applicants must pay a $465 fee and submit to a biometric scan and background investigation.

The USCIS says that only individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these guidelines will be considered for deferred action. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis under the guidelines set forth in the Secretary of Homeland Security’s memorandum.

Day 1
On late Wednesday morning, the first day of the historic immigration policy change, hundreds of young people made their way toward St. Mary’s Church on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), the New York State Immigrant Action Fund (NYSIAF), and the New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC) set up a day-long orientation workshop and free legal clinic for potential applicants of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new deferred action policy.

Last June, President Obama made a historic announcement that DHS would provide relief from deportation for certain young people who were brought to the United States as children. Those who meet the eligibility requirements will receive deferred action for two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

To make the most of this significant new policy and ensure that as many eligible New Yorkers as possible benefit from it, the New York Immigration Coalition and the New York State Immigrant Action Fund have launched a statewide initiative, the New York State DREAM Legal Services Network, bringing together community-based organizations, immigrant legal services groups and law firms to provide free legal assistance to individuals navigating the application process.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, as many as 1.76 million people nationally could be eligible for deferred action. That includes at least 1.2 million who are eligible for the program already and another half-million who are too young today but could qualify in the future. Nearly 3 in 4 are concentrated in four states: California, Texas, Florida, and New York, with an estimated 110,000 people in New York State alone.
At St. Mary’s Church in New York, young people waited in anticipation to meet with legal service providers to review eligibility requirements. At a press conference earlier in the day, DREAMers stood with community organizations, advocates, and government officials to speak about the deferred action process and the importance the day held for them.

“This has been a long time coming! Special thanks to the DREAMers who put themselves on the line, and all those who moved the President to take action in the face of Congressional paralysis,” said Ms. Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “And what a joy it is to mobilize our resources and energy for something positive, after so many years of having to defend against one destructive policy after another. Today we embark on a road to deferred action, work authorization, and the ability of eligible young people to pursue their dreams in the country they call home. Let’s hope this is the first step to the kinds of reform our country, and our communities, so desperately need.”

Max Ahmed was among the hundreds of DREAMers who signed up for legal services at the clinic. He said, “I am currently a senior studying chemical engineering at the City College of New York. Deferred Action will grant some stability for me and over a million young people like me. This policy grants me more than a permit to work or to live here. It allows me to now pursue my dream of contributing to the city and to the country. I want to work on today’s energy problems through my degree in chemical engineering.”

“I always thought of myself as an American, but because I lacked certain papers I lived with a constant fear of deportation,” said Emily Park, a DREAMer and youth organizer at the MinKwon Center for Community Action in Flushing, Queens. “Today, we thank President Obama for providing DREAMers like me with this chance to request Deferred Action and work authorization. We will be vigilant in ensuring that this policy is implemented. We also urge Congress to build upon this action to pass comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act to provide a path to citizenship and achieve broader justice for our communities.”

DREAMers were also joined by Congresswomen Nydia M. Velazquez and Yvette D. Clark, Fatima Shama, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Congresswoman Velázquez reiterated her support by saying, “Young people who came here as children often have known no other country than this one. It is the correct and moral thing to allow them to stay here.”

“This great nation, a nation of hardworking immigrants, suffers when good students from our communities are prevented from reaching their full potential. We are all deprived of a better future when we force our young people to grow up in immigration limbo,” said Congresswoman Clarke. “These young people, from all over the world, have wanted nothing more than to fully participate in their adoptive nation without the threat of deportation or repercussion for a decision that was not their own. Their dedication to improving their lives and serving their adopted country are great examples of ideal Americans. To deny young people the very opportunities that we as citizens often take for granted is shameful. That is why I promise to work towards the success of the deferred action program and to use the momentum of its success to inspire new debate on comprehensive immigration reform.”

“Young immigrants are an important part of the fabric of New York City”, said Fatima Shama, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “We will continue to support our immigrant New Yorkers by ensuring they have access to the documents needed to apply so that they get every opportunity to pursue their dreams and contribute to the City and country they call home.”

“New York State is the only state government in the nation with a comprehensive plan to ensure eligible youth in New York can take full advantage of this positive change in federal immigration rules, while protecting them from fraud,” said Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. “We are pleased to be partnering with immigration service providers, advocates, private sector and the federal and local governments to coordinate a response to help thousands of young people take full advantage of this new opportunity. I encourage New Yorkers to visit to learn about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and to sign up for an information session or free legal consultation event.”

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, “Immigrants are a vital part of New York City’s life, culture, and economy. Deferred Action gives immigrant families a sense of safety and opens up avenues for employment and education. We applaud President Obama for this decision to make our nation a little more welcoming, and to take a first step towards passing the DREAM act.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver expressed his support for today’s inaugural event, saying, “Deferred action is a profoundly humane policy for hundreds of thousands of young people who know no other home than the United States and who live in perpetual fear of deportation,” said Silver. “This legal service initiative by the New York Immigration Coalition is exactly what the Assembly had in mind when it fought to include in the state budget funding to inform immigrant communities about this new federal policy.  These efforts will help young people to ultimately pursue an education, develop careers and provide for themselves and their families.”