Before the DREAM, Plenty of Paperwork

A coalition of DREAM Act students and allies encouraged eligible undocumented immigrants to apply for relief from deportation and for temporary work permits Wednesday in Austin. The group, called the University Leadership Initiative, also sounded a warning to protect immigrants from being ripped off by predatory lawyers.

It was part of a national Day of Action spearheaded by United We Dream, a network of youth-led immigrant organizations. The groups celebrated U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ release of the long-awaited Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications two months after the Obama administration announced the policy.

More than 1 million undocumented immigrants are estimated to benefit from the new policy, which grants a temporary reprieve from deportation as well as a two-year work permit to those approved. According to an Immigration Policy Center analysis, 152,550 unauthorized immigrants in Texas currently qualify for deferred action. Texas is second only to California, where 298,030 people qualify.

Diana Morales, secretary for the University Leadership Initiative, says she and many other members of the organization are beginning the application process themselves.

“Right now I don’t know of anybody who has actually turned in their application just because of the length of the process and the extra things [that are required],” she says.

Though the six-page application doesn’t include particularly difficult or tricky questions, Morales says applicants want to make sure they get everything exactly correct. At $465 per application and without the possibility of an appeal, it’s no surprise applicants are being cautious.

“We’re trying to fill out the applications, not as quickly as we can, but taking the time to make sure everything we are putting is correct,” Morales says.

Some attorneys, notaries public and others are exploiting this fear of making mistakes on applications and advertising help with filling them out at outrageous prices. The coalition wanted to make others aware of this during their event Wednesday. … FULL STORY