Press Release: Immigrants: Seek Legal Help Before Applying for Deferred Action
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) welcomes the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement today of further steps to implement the Deferred Action program for immigrants who came to the United States as children. The administration is right to focus immigration enforcement on protecting our borders and apprehending those who pose security risks to the United States.
“While not a permanent solution, this is an important step for many young people in our communities,” said NAE President Leith Anderson. “Many of the individuals who will benefit from this program are beloved members of our churches, whom we have known since they were children.”
Immigrants who were brought to the United States as children are understandably excited about the prospect of being able to take the first step toward legal status. The Deferred Action program offers the possibility for qualifying immigrants to obtain work authorization and temporary approval to remain in the United States without fear of deportation.
However, immigration policies are complex, and not all immigrants who came to the United States as children will qualify for Deferred Action. Prospective applicants are encouraged to consult with an immigration attorney or a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited representative before applying. A list of BIA accredited representatives is available at www.immigrationlawhelp.org. Information on services offered through World Relief, the humanitarian service arm of the NAE, is available at http://worldrelief.org/immigrant-legal-services.
"It is illegal for anyone other than an attorney or a BIA accredited representative to charge money for immigration legal help,” said Galen Carey, NAE Vice President for Government Relations. “Anyone found to be doing this should be reported to the authorities.” More information on the unauthorized practice of law is available at the American Bar Association’s website, www.fightnotariofraud.org.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, there will be no charge for Deferred Action applications, which will not be available until Aug. 15. There will be a fee of $465 for those seeking work authorization. Immigrants should be prepared to pay for legal services through attorneys or BIA accredited representatives. Some of these offer services on a sliding scale based on ability to pay.
“Churches may assist by paying legal fees for those who cannot afford the cost,” Carey said. “But church members should not attempt to provide legal help unless they are trained and legally authorized to do so. Volunteers with the best of intentions have sometimes caused irreparable harm to families by offering bad advice on legal immigration matters.”
While the Deferred Action program is a first step in addressing the immediate needs of some immigrants, this is no substitute for tackling the long overdue overhaul of our broken immigration system. The NAE calls on Congress and the administration to work together for comprehensive immigration reform.
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"There is a massive shift on immigration that is occurring within the evangelical churches in America. We discovered that when pastors of our churches teach what the Bible says, people's attitudes change on immigration. If people read about what the Old Testament says on welcoming the stranger, people change their minds."