Undocumented Pinoys told to be wary of scammers

Posted at 07/19/2012 1:19 PM | Updated as of 07/19/2012 1:19 PM

SAN FRANCISCO – President Barack Obama announced on June 18 that undocumented students who meet certain criteria will be spared from deportation.

Since then, a 22-year-old undocumented Filipino student has been preparing his documents to temporarily spare him from deportation and be allowed to work in the country.

The student struggles to pay for college. He said Obama’s announcement is a big relief.

“Recently, the California Dream Act was passed so we’re able to get financial assistance from the government. There'll be a lot more scholarships available. But I need money to pay bills and other stuff for school. Even working part-time would help,” he said.

Those eligible must not have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more minor misdemeanors. They would also need to submit a number of documents to prove their residency.

He said there are others in the same situation who would like to get help, but are afraid.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has until August 15 to create a process for the applications.

Chris Punongbayan, immigration advocate for the Asian Law Caucus said eligible undocumented students should not submit a deferred action request now because the application will be rejected.

“The application process has not yet been made public and so individuals should not submit any information to Department of Homeland Security because it will be rejected.”

Punongbayan said those wanting to apply should be wary of scammers.

“What they can do is find a trusted lawyer in the community, community leaders who are experts, who can give valuable information when it is available in the middle of August,” he said.

He added, “We want to make sure people are not taken advantage of by individuals who claim to be immigration consultants or accepting money in order to submit application before the application is even available”.

He said it has not been determined how much the application fee would cost eligible undocumented students. But he said advocates are asking for a fee waiver from the government.

Punongbayan said that advocates are also asking for clarification in the application and denial process.

He pointed out, “What are the confidentiality protections for individuals? If they apply and if they get rejected, will they or their parents be subject to deportation?”

Grants for deferred action and work authorization will be given in increments of two years. Once it expires, eligible undocumented students must need to renew their application.