By Steven Adamo
Updates on rapidly-changing immigration laws were given Tuesday for the “Know Your Rights” event, hosted by East Los Angeles College along with local groups. The presentation focused on four major topics, Special Immigration Juvenile Status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Public Charge and how Marijuana can affect the Immigration process.
Judy London, Directing Attorney for Public Counsel Law Center’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and one of the speakers of the event, said education is power and is saddened that most immigrants currently being deported are young adolescents who are not aware of their rights. London emphasized the importance for young immigrants to apply for SlJS assistance and said that those granted SIJS have a path to become a legal resident and then a U.S. citizen.
“This process can take 3 to 5 years for the individual to become eligible for legal residency in the United States,” London said. In order for a juvenile to qualify, London said, he or she must file their SJJS petition with the juvenile court and must be admissible.
Under SIJS, if a person applied and is denied, that person is still able to stay in the United States without deportation. If Trump’s petition passes, deportation can become possible.
For the students who were a part of DACA before Sep. 2017, they are still able to apply for another two years. At the moment, first time applicants are still blocked. Many DACA students haven’t reapplied. Next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will decide if DACA will continue or not.
The 800-page Public Charge rule is currently in court and is being reviewed. If passed, public benefits such as WIC, Section 8 housing, food stamps and MediCal could all go in the category of public charge.
In terms of legal marijuana in California, it is still an illegal drug according to the federal law, so use for immigrants is strict. Marijuana use is risky, not just for undocumented immigrants, but also green card and residential immigrants. It can not only lead to deportation, but if convicted, won’t be able to come to the United States legally.
London said that many immigrants are currently afraid with all the new law changes, but said they do not need to stop the use of Food Stamps, Section 8 and some other services.
If the person was previously receiving these benefits, it will not count against them in the Public Charge. “Be very careful and aware who you seek help from. Obtain consultation and referrals from reputable legal service organizations,” said London.
According to Luis Perez, Esq., Legal Services Director for CHIRLA, there has been ten million applications total since it started and encourages everyone who is currently benefiting from DACA to renew now. “DACA is not permanent, and you must renew it every two years while it is still available,” said Perez.
Student immigrants that are in high school and middle school would not be able to apply with all these new DACA updates and changes.
To bring awareness to this matter, Central America Resource Centers are promoting a national walkout on Nov. 12 for all students in both high school and middle school who are denied their right to apply.
Because of the fear and unfamiliarity of these changes, only 14 percent of immigrants currently enrolled in DACA have reapplied, even though it will be expiring in February.
The CARECEN representative mentioned an allocation of $5 million to help immigrants with the application fee when applying for DACA. The existing cost for renewal applicants is $465 dollars.