Thursday, 05 July 2012 14:08
By Heather Welch
Catholic Charities will provide guidance to some undocumented immigrants in response to recent changes in national immigration policy.
As the result of a recent executive order, undocumented youth 15 years old and younger who have lived in the United States for over five years will be allowed to apply for temporary lawful status and work authorization.
“These individuals came unlawfully to the U.S. at a very young age, and through no fault of their own they have been educated here. Many cannot even remember the countries of their birth,” said David Osio, Immigration and Refugee Services coordinator at Catholic Charities.
“The U.S. is their home and they are ready to work hard to contribute to the only place they call home.”
The change in policy is not a change in the immigration law, but it will allow young people who do not have legal immigration status and who meet specific criteria to apply for a deferral to stay in the U.S. with their families, finish high school, and work.
The order is intended to allow youth to remain focused on their education, halt large numbers of high school dropouts, and help young people obtain college loans.
The policy change is not a pathway to citizenship nor does it change the legal immigration status of young people who came to the U.S. under the age of sixteen.
It is not amnesty for immigrants but allows undocumented young people to obtain a work permit. The permit is valid for two years with possible renewal. Family members cannot be included.
While Catholic Charities will begin to advise clients immediately on immigration applications, documents may not be filed until after the Nov. 6 elections. It is possible the executive order will not be sustained by a new administration.
Osio warned those eligible for the program to be wary of “Notarios” who offer help with documents but are not authorized to practice immigration law.
“We strongly urge people to get help from an accredited non-profit immigration program like Catholic Charities, or a licensed attorney,” he said.
Catholic Charities will host informational meetings about the immigration policy executive order. Details will be printed in the July 20 edition of the Catholic Advance. In addition, every Wednesday is walk-in day for immigration consultation at Charities, located at 532 N. Broadway, just north of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. For more information, call (316) 264-0282.