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Immigration changes caution about `notarios'

Immigration lawyers around Oregon welcomed the Obama administration's recent announcement that younger immigrants may be eligible for "deferred action" and work authorization, according to the Oregon Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
   The policy will grant qualified immigrants the opportunity to live free from fear of deportation and allow them to work legally. This new development brings hope to immigrants and their families. It is not, however, a permanent fix and does not grant permanent legal status to anyone, the association said.
   To qualify, an individual must:
   . Have arrived in the U.S. when they were under the age of 16.
   . Have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012, and have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.
   . Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces.
   . Not have been convicted of a felony offense, a "significant misdemeanor offense," three or more nonsignificant misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
   . Have been under 31 years old on June 15, 2012.
   The deferred action offer will be available to those in proceedings, those with final removal orders, as well as to those who apply affirmatively.
   According to the immigration lawyers association, the administration is not yet accepting applications for this action. Within 60 days -- by the middle of August -- the administration expects to issue guidance and information about how eligible individuals can request deferred action and work authorization.
   Immigrants who are not in removal proceedings, should not apply for deferred action at this time. Unfortunately, this policy may open the door for fraud and deception by so-called "notarios."
   In the United States, notarios have no legal background and cannot act as a qualified attorney. Anyone claiming they can submit an application or charging a fee for applying for deferred action should not be trusted until the process been announced by the federal government.
   An immigrant's case can be delayed by notarios acting in bad faith, resulting in penalties and even deportation.
   "Be careful! Do not endanger your chance to qualify for this action," said John Marandas, chairman of the Oregon Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "Make sure to contact a genuine immigration lawyer who can help ensure your application is being filed properly," he added.
   A list of informational sessions and trusted Web resources is available on the Oregon Chapter's website www.ailaoregon.org.
   For more resources on this topic, visit www.aila.org/dream, or www.ailalawyer.com to locate a qualified immigration attorney in your area.