WACO, Texas (Sept. 12, 2012) - Baylor University's Law School will begin operating a clinic to assist those who may be eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. An estimated 150,000 young unauthorized immigrants in Texas are eligible for relief from immediate deportation.
The clinic is in response to President Obama's executive order which allows those who entered the United States as children to remain in the country and work without fear of deportation for a period of two years. It will operate from 6:30 to 10 p.m., Sept. 18, 20, 25 and 27 and Oct. 2 and 4 at the Baylor Law School campus, 1114 S. University Parks Drive.
The Baylor Law School DACA Immigration Clinic is stepping up to help with cumbersome and sometimes confusing paperwork.
Under the direction of Laura A. Hernandez, associate professor of law, and Waco attorney and Baylor Law alumna Susan Nelson, second- and third-year law students will assist applicants in filling out the paperwork needed to take advantage of the program.
"The DACA program is aimed at those immigrants who are between the ages of 15 and 31," Hernandez said. "They are commonly referred to as 'Dreamers' after the Dream Act, which has not yet become law. These young people came to this country before they were 16, were educated in the American school system and for all intents and purposes are American. While the DACA program is not a path to citizenship, it is an opportunity for these immigrants to become lawful, tax-paying residents."
This the second clinic launched this month by Baylor Law to help members of the community with little or no access to legal services. Through a grant from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, Baylor Law also is providing assistance to military veterans. The Baylor Law School Veterans' Clinic begins Sept. 14 at the Mission Waco Meyer Center, 1226 Washington Ave.
"At Baylor Law, we pride ourselves on developing both great lawyers and great citizens," said Baylor Law School Dean Brad Toben. "The immigration and the veterans' clinics are not only a way for our students to gain valuable experience, but perhaps more importantly, to also discover and understand the positive impact their knowledge and skills can make in the lives of people whose voices might not otherwise be heard."
Local activists are encouraging Waco churches to join a nationwide effort that seeks to move the discussion about immigration policy from the political arena to church pews.
The effort kicked off this summer with a symposium that explored what the Bible says about immigrants and how Christians should respond. Held at First Spanish Assembly of God Church in Waco, it drew representatives from 27 organizations, most of them churches, organizer Manuel Sustaita said.
Now, the fledging group is encouraging pastors to follow through on pledges they made at the event, said Lydia Bean, another organizer.
Nine said they would preach sermons this fall related to God’s heart for immigrants. Others vowed to hold voter registration drives or host guest speakers to educate members about immigration issues, she said.
The group plans to meet later this month to talk about possibly hosting a broader community event, Bean said. But for now, the focus is on encouraging congregations to discuss immigration issues. That sort of grass-roots effort is the best bet for prompting meaningful immigration reform, she said.
“I think it is very clear this is something God cares about . . . Politicians always have their finger in the wind and see how it blows,” said Bean, an assistant sociology professor at Baylor University. “Rather than trying to change the politicians, we’re trying to change the wind.”
Find out if you might qualify for President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Attorneys and BIA Accredited Representatives will be available for individual screenings. Based on income, you may be referred to a nonprofit agency or trusted private attorney who can assist you in completing the required paperwork.
The Immigration Policy Center issued a report earlier this week on where the potential Deferred Action applicants are. Included in the date is a chart of Deferred Action Applicants by District. In my Texas-17 District that covers Waco, Texas, represented by Rep. Bill Flores, these are the estimates:
Total potential beneficiaries - 4,110
Immediately beneficiaries (age 15-30) - 2,729
Future beneficiaries (age 5-14) - 1,390
The estimates by country of nationality for District 17 is as follows:
The Texas attorney general's office has frozen the assets of an Austin-based group that it says broke state laws by promising immigration assistance to clients — sometimes for large sums of money — that it did not deliver, officials said Wednesday.
Travis County state District Judge Scott Jenkins granted the state prosecutors' request for an asset freeze and temporary restraining order against Just for People Inc., as well as its directors and affiliates, officials with the attorney general's office said.
The order comes as part of a lawsuit the attorney general filed this month that said the directors of Just for People and a related business promised immigration counseling services to Spanish-speaking people seeking to gain citizenship. The organization said it could help people obtain legal residence papers, work visas and appointments with immigration authorities.
The business did not deliver on those promises and would respond with threats if their clients complained, a violation of the state's deceptive trade practices laws, the lawsuit said.
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The suit names Just for People director Elizabeth Gabriella Paneque, who it says goes by the aliases Gabriella Gatjnes and Nilda Odalys Paneque, as well as co-directors Frank Alarcon Marimon and Luz L. Guerrero. The suit also names Ayan Mohamed Ismail, who is co-owner of a related business called Lead God, along with Paneque and Marimon, the lawsuit said.
Attorney general's officials said in the suit that they have identified at least 23 people who paid Just for People. One paid the defendants $11,000 for immigration assistance and received nothing; another paid them $6,800 for a visa he did not receive, the lawsuit said. In one case, Just for People received a sum of $50,000 to bring an extended family into the U.S., the lawsuit said.
In addition, the defendants are forbidden by law from promising immigration services because they are not attorneys or approved by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit said the defendants had a "transient lifestyle," lived off cash made from their organization, and that all of the furniture in their home and business was rented.
Join the conversation on Tuesday, July 24th at 11am
at First Spanish Assembly of God, 3301 Clay, Waco TX
Light lunch provided
Thousands of people in our community are trapped by our broken immigration system.
How can people of faith respond?
Hear three pastors share their stories.
Meet with other Christian leaders in small groups, to discern how our churches are called to respond.
We will hear from:
Rev. Alan Bean, Friends of Justice Ministries - Founded Friends of Justice to build a new moral consensus for equal justice under the law.
Rev. Frank Alvarado, First Spanish Assembly of God - Pastors a bilingual church that includes people personally affected by our broken immigration system
Rev. Jim Coston, Calvary Baptist Church - Pastored a multi-ethnic church in Trenton, New Jersey, where he also served as a city council member. He now pastors a majority-Anglo church that is active in community service.
Sponsored by people of faith in progressive politics