In nine days, young undocumented immigrants will have the opportunity to legalize their status, under the new Deferred Action plan that allows them to apply for work permits.
Lucia Vidal of San Jose is planning to apply for one of the deferred action permits. The teen is an Overfelt High School student whose parents brought her to the United States illegally when she was 2 years old in hopes of a better future.
“We came with a coyote, my mom pretended she was his wife and that I was his child go get across the border,” Lucia said.
Lucia has never been back to Mexico.
Immigrants younger than 31 years of age who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children will qualify for two-year, renewable work permits and protection from deportation. The research and advocacy group, Immigration Policy Center, estimates there are 46,000 such immigrants in the Bay Area alone.
However, immigration advocates in Santa Clara County are asking people such as Vidal to start gathering their documentation, like transcripts, but caution to only seek help from qualified sources.
In particular, immigration advocates are telling people avoid “notarios” in particular. Notarios are notaries public, some of whom have been prosecuted by the Santa Clara County District Attorney for advertising legal and immigration advice for which they are not qualified.
“It is illegal for a notary to offer legal advice,” said Monica Lima of Santa Clara County Human Relations Department.
According to Yen Dang, Santa Clara County Supervising Deputy District Attorney in charge of consumer fraud, it happens more times than her office has been able to prosecute because often victims don’t come forward for fear of deportation
SIREN – the Service, Immigrant Rights and Education Network – is urging people not to go at it alone.
“Do not apply before Aug.15, because if you do, you will be rejected and you subject yourself to deportation,” said SIREN’s Jazmin Segura. “Don’t do it alone, contact a lawyer, contact two lawyers.”
People can follow the latest developments via text, by connecting through 30644.
Another resource is www.ImmigrantInfo.org a clearinghouse of resources and information that gets about 4,000 hits a month.
As 15-year-old Lucia Vidal gets ready to head back to school for her junior year, she’ll also be getting her paperwork in order so that she can become a legal citizen of the country she considers her own.
“San Jose is my home, it’s all I know,” Vidal said.