Immigration rights furthured by University organization

AP Photo by Pat Jarrett

Natalie Alatriste/ Staff Writer

natalie.alatriste@fiusm.com

Last fall the University’s chapter of Students Working for Equal Rights, an organization that seeks to garner support for the rights of undocumented individuals, celebrated FIU becoming Florida’s first public college to offer an out-of-state tuition waiver for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students.

In spreading the word for the announcement last year, SWER held information sessions to inform students about the requirements for the program.

This semester the organization has more information to share.

In keeping with its commitment to helping undocumented individuals, the organization seeks to provide other forms of support for those who can benefit from services such as the DACA program.

The newest development from President Obama’s executive action is the Deferred Action Parental Accountability program, which serves to extend the benefits of DACA to eligible parents of lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens, according to Claudio Galaz, president of SWER at FIU.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, those who qualify for deferred action must prove to be no risk to national security or public safety, and must abide by several rules and regulations.

The DACA program essentially allows children that were brought to the country before reaching 16 years of age to remain within the U.S.

Although the DAPA program was accepted and passed at the executive level by President Obama, some congressional leaders still aim to do away with the provision.

According to Galaz, DACA gives children the hope to continue studying in the U.S. and the opportunity to work and remain in America for a certain period of time without the risk of removal proceedings from the country.

Despite the fact that the deferred action program is allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States for a certain period of time, it does not provide a “lawful status” to those who are approved.

“A lot of students and a lot of students’ parents would qualify for deferred action programs such as DACA and DAPA if they became aware of the procedures and qualifications,” said Galaz.

At this time, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is not accepting new applications for DAPA or the expanded DACA, according to the National Immigration Law Center.

Only renewals are allowed from those that qualified in the June 2012 DACA criteria.

With these new developments, activists await the final announcement of the DACA and DAPA passing.

DACA begins accepting applications on Feb. 20, 2015, and DAPA on May 20, 2015.

However, the acceptance of these bills is still pending, as Congress can still veto the programs.

Galaz, as well as all the members of FIU’s SWER, as leading activists for FIU, are currently lobbying against the veto for these programs.

Galaz’s personal background is what inspired him to become an activist.

Having been born and raised in Chile, and having moved to America eight years ago, Galaz recently attained his residency.

His largest concern is that those who qualify be aware of what the laws currently are and what steps should be taken to handle immigration status.

“We don’t want people going to public notaries or immigration consultants and giving them money, thinking they’ll get something in return,” he said.  “If someone needs help with this matter, they should visit a certified immigration lawyer only.”

He says these scams commonly take money from people who are simply just trying to get help with their situation.

SWER will be hosting a public seminar on the topic of deferred action on Jan. 31, 2015, in the Graham Center at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus at 11a.m. This informational session will give further insight and options for deferred action.

For information on the seminar, or to RSVP, e-mail Claudio Galaz at claudiog@swer.org. Students can also find out more information on http://www.nilc.org.

“Even though immigration reform hasn’t been possible yet, I’m grateful that the President was able to pass these laws,” said Galaz. “It’s one step closer in the right direction. We need to keep fighting for those who don’t have a voice.”

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