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Thousands of Immigrant Applicants for Deferred Deportation Highlight Need for Vigilance Against Exploitation

Thousands of Immigrant Applicants for Deferred Deportation Highlight Need for Vigilance Against Exploitation

By Daniel Buchanan

About 200,000 young people in the United States have applied for deferred deportation since the Department of Homeland Security began accepting applications under the Obama administration’s new policy two months ago, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Wednesday. The steady flow of applicants hoping to take advantage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — more than 3,000 every day — underscores the importance of spreading awareness that some individuals may use the program to exploit young people, said American Bar Association President Laurel Bellows.

The program allows people without lawful immigration status who were under the age of 31 as of June 15 and came to the country before they were 16 to apply to stay in the United States for a two-year, renewable period. It requires applicants to file paperwork to complete the process, which can take at least four months, Napolitano said.

Those who believe they need help to complete their application should “contact local legal aid providers, a qualified immigration lawyer or an accredited representative for assistance,” Bellows said. “Applicants can also call U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at 1-800-375-5283 or visit its website for additional information.”

The ABA is concerned that some individuals will use this program to take advantage of applicants who are daunted by the paperwork requirements, Bellows said. “Persons who bill themselves as ‘immigration consultants,’ or ‘notarios,’ are not licensed lawyers and are unqualified to offer legal advice,” she said.

To combat unscrupulous nonlawyer immigration consultants, the ABA offers resources to help victims through the Fight Notario Fraud Project. For more information, call 202-442-3363 or email FNF@americanbar.org. To file a complaint about a notario, click here.

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