By Jane Sander
September 4, 2012
Business is booming for local immigration attorneys. It's all because of President Obama's deferred action program that now allows young undocumented immigrants to apply for a work permit.
This new program is an opportunity for many undocumented immigrants to get a two year work permit to stay in the United States legally. But this opportunity has many applicants confused about the qualifications that are needed and how they can prove that they meet them. That's where immigration lawyers step in.
The stakes are high for immigrants looking to apply for deferred action. Many aren't taking any chances on this one and are turning to immigration lawyers, like Tom Roach, to make sure this is the right choice.
"Certain things in life that are important enough where you go to a professional. If you have a tooth ache, you can have your brother pull your tooth if you want, but some people, most people, go to dentists," says Roach.
Immigrants between the ages of fifteen and thirty can qualify for the program if they've been here for the past five years, have completed or are now earning a high school education and haven't committed any serious crimes.
"Three misdemeanors and you're out. So if you apply for this program and you don't qualify, you could be put into deportation. So it can be pretty risky," says Roach.
Immigration lawyer Carlos Villarreal says people come to him asking if they're good candidates to apply for this program.
"They want to know what realistically, what is the likelihood of success because it is a serious step forward. They're putting themselves out there in front of immigration," says Villarreal.
Clarifying these risks and misinformation has local immigration lawyers swamped with work.
"Since June fifteenth, I have been just bombarded with appointments and asking for emergency appointments to get in sooner," says Villarreal.
Villarreal says he gets new clients everyday wanting to know if they should apply. Roach says since the program was announced in June, he's talked to at least three hundred people.
But the future of the program still remains uncertain as the election approaches.
"The fact of the matter is it was created by an executive order. It could be uncreated by an executive order on January twentieth if there is a new chief executive," says Roach.
Roach says of the 11 million undocumented people now in the U.S. it's estimated 1.7 million qualify for deferred action, but that doesn't mean everyone who applies will get it.
The two year work permit can be renewed for another two years but there's no guarantee it will get approved.