We're not finished cheering, hugging and laughing with joy, but the hard-nosed among us are raising a red flag: DREAMers who may be eligible for Deferred Action and work permits under the new policy announced by DHS and President Obama need to protect themselves from notarios and other scammers.
Thieves of all stripes are drooling at the prospect of nearly a million kids, hungry for documentation, willing to pay almost anything for a work permit. No doubt hundreds, perhaps thousands of young people have parted with precious savings in the hopes of a quick fix, even though the ink is not yet dry on the new policy.
Immigrants have always been a vulnerable population, and kids doubly so. It's critical for immigrants seeking Deferred Action and work permits under the new policy to get accurate information and representation by licensed (and experienced) attorneys or "Accredited Representatives."
Accredited Reps, as they are known, are non-lawyers who are authorized by the federal government to advise and represent individuals in immigration cases. They have passed an examination and are supervised by experienced immigration attorneys.
Every major city has one or more low-cost or free legal service provider well-versed in immigration law. They often are staffed by a potent combination of attorneys and Accredited Reps. DREAMers seeking work permits and Deferred Action should turn first to those agencies, and firmly reject the enticements of the corner notario and similar wolves.
USCIS, the main federal agency tasked with implementing the new policy, has a robust set of tools to help prevent and combat scams and ripoffs, and to locate appropriate service providers.
And AILA, the leading immigration attorney organization, recently launched a "Stop Notario Fraud" effort replete with similar tools.
Now more than ever, immigrants, especially young DREAMers, need to explore this Deferred Action initiative with the right representation, and to avoid victimization.
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