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Aug. 7, 2012
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Asian American Center for Advancing Justice Announces Legal Resources and Direct Assistance to Undocumented Youth on Deferred Action Relief
CHICAGO–The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) – Asian American Institute (AAI), Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), Asian Law Caucus (ALC), and Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC)-are mobilizing to meet the high need for culturally and linguistically appropriate legal assistance in the Asian American and Pacific Islander immigrant community, following Friday’s announcement on the deferred action process for eligible undocumented youth by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“We are pleased to provide in-language direct assistance and resources on deferred action relief to eligible undocumented youth,” said Stewart Kwoh, APALC president and executive director. “Undocumented youth in California and throughout the nation can call APALC’s toll-free Asian language hotlines to get free legal assistance and more information.”
“Though a procedure for deferred action is finally in place, we anticipate that there will be confusion and anxiety over the application process,” said Hyeon-Ju Rho, ALC executive director. “ALC is prepared to assist numerous community members in Northern California, and we encourage individuals and their families to contact us for help navigating this new process.”
“This is an unprecedented action by DHS but the newly-announced guidelines are as yet untested. We are monitoring the policy closely to ensure that Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and all immigrant communities can take full advantage of this historic opportunity,” said Mee Moua, AAJC president and executive director.
“It is important to remember that the activism of immigrant youth is one of the main reasons why deferred action relief was even made available. Even though this change will have a positive impact on immigrants, we must continue to push forward for a roadmap to permanent legal status for the 12 million undocumented Americans,” said Tuyet Le, AAI executive director.
On August 3rd, DHS announced its procedure for processing application requests for deferred action to undocumented youth. DHS also indicated that the deferred action application is not yet available, but it is expected to become public on August 15, 2012. A deferred action application will cost $465, which includes the fees for requesting an employment authorization document. There are no fee waivers available for employment authorization applications, and only very limited fee exemptions. Applications should not be submitted at any time before August 15, 2012.
Deferred action requests can be made directly to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for individuals who are not in detention. This includes individuals not in removal proceedings, individuals in removal proceedings, and those with final orders of removal or voluntary departure orders. If an individual is in detention, the person requesting deferred action should bring the matter directly to his/her detention officer or contact the ICE Office of the Public Advocate by calling (888) 351-4024.
There is no appeal if a case is denied, but DHS has indicated that all cases will undergo supervisory review. If the case is denied, USCIS will apply existing rules in determining whether the individual should be placed into removal proceedings.
To be eligible for deferred action, the following requirements must be established:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States under the age of 16;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007 up to the present time;
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012 or have expired lawful immigration status as of June 15, 2012;
- Are currently be in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, three of more other misdemeanor offenses, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
DHS provided greater clarification regarding age eligibility for an applicant. In all instances, the applicant cannot be 31 or older as of June 15, 2012. If the individual has never been in removal proceedings or if proceedings were terminated before the request for deferred action, the person must be at least 15 years of age at the time of filing for deferred action. If the individual is in removal proceedings, has a final removal order or a voluntary departure order, the person can request consideration for deferred action even if under the age of 15 at the time of filing.
Given that USCIS will not release the deferred action application form until August 15, immigration advocates and community-based organizations are warning immigrant communities to be wary of those who advertise that they can help individuals for a fee before the application process is even available. The practice of individuals providing legal advice when they are not qualified to do so is called the “unauthorized practice of law.”
Immigrants who think they may qualify for such relief can contact the Los Angeles-based APALC for questions and free direct assistance at (888) 349-9695 and firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, APALC can provide assistance in the following languages:
- Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) – (800) 520-2356
- Khmer – (800) 867-3126
- Korean – (800) 867-3640
- Thai – (800) 914-9583
- Vietnamese – (800) 267-7395
Immigrants also can contact the San Francisco-based ALC at (415) 896-1701 and email@example.com. To obtain information on the application form and fees, check the USCIS website located at www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals.
The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (www.advancingjustice.org) is comprised of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, DC (www.advancingequality.org), the Asian American Institute in Chicago (www.aaichicago.org), the Asian Law Caucus (www.asianlawcaucus.org) in San Francisco and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (www.apalc.org) in Los Angeles. The mission of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice is to promote a fair and equitable society for all by working for civil and human rights and empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities.