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On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama presented the United States, and families watching from their television at home, a chance at hope one more time. This announcement went by the name of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) with the addition of an expansion to the requirements for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The proposition for DAPA provided parents of Lawful Permanent Residents and U.S. citizens, if they fell under the set requirements, a relief from deportation of the United States.

As the announcement went on, various non-profit organizations across the U.S. started preparing for DAPA and expanded DACA by gathering volunteer trainings, conducting informative workshops, and holding community conferences. These programs were expected to assist over 4.4 million people, according to the Department of Homeland Security. As time went by, many individuals on the opposing side of President Obama’s executive action gathered as much force possible to attack and ultimately destroy the preposition.

To our demise, with a policy that would have granted millions of families the opportunity to work with a work authorization and stop fear of deportation, on February 16, 2015 a federal judge in Texas blocked these two programs. In his injunction, he stated that the two programs were against the abilities of the President and thus placed a hold on them so that they can no longer be implemented.

Up to this date, DAPA and expanded DACA supporters have attempted to find some sort of outlet to allow it to go forth but it has not found itself successful. In recent news, as of October 3, 2016, the Supreme Court denied the request to rehear the DAPA and expanded DACA case until after a 9th justice is appointed, which would mean these immigration programs will remain blocked.

While this is disappointing and families are currently in limbo waiting for some sort of relief to keep their families united, we should continue to fight and show our support for DAPA and expanded DACA. This also only means that now more than ever, we need to have our voices be heard and VOTE on November 8 for a new body of government that will stand up for our families, community and our future.

Let your voice be heard, and vote on election day—our ancestors didn’t fight for our right to vote for it to only be put to waste.

Yours truly,

A passionate advocate for immigration reform

P.S.—Please be aware of immigration fraud by understanding that nor expanded DACA or DAPA is active. There are currently no immigration forms available for these two programs. Also, when consulting for immigration relief one should only adhere to accredited organizations and legally authorized attorneys that practice immigration law in the United States. Lastly, “notarios”/notaries are not lawyers or accredited representatives therefore they can not provide you with any sort of assistance or guidance on immigration cases or forms. If you need any legal help contact the New York State Office of New Americans for reliable referrals.

Melissa Portillo is a recent graduate from Baruch College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. She is currently pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Immigration Law with the CUNY School of Professional Studies. In her spare time, Melissa is greatly involved in various volunteer projects that are geared towards assisting immigrants and low-income New Yorkers by informing and empowering families to attain successful integration. As a first generation graduate, Melissa hopes to continue to improve the lives of immigrant families and bring about change.

Do you know any immigrants?  Maybe a relative, a friend, a co worker, and the man you buy your coffee and bagel from in the morning on the way to school or work?  Of course you do! Immigration is one of the most pressing contemporary issues in the United States. The foreign-born now represent about 13 percent of the population. Together with their American-born children, this group constitutes a quarter of the United States — more than 65 million people. But did you know how difficult immigration law is to navigate without the assistance of a qualified, licensed, and accredited lawyers or representatives to assist and advocate for immigrants?  It is extremely difficult.  Immigration law is complex and changes constantly based on politics, economics, population, etc.  CUNY Citizenship Now and CUNY School of Professional Studies are well aware of the challenges the immigrant population in the United States face every day and they diligently work to educate and serve the immigrant community and their advocates.

CUNY Citizenship Now provides free, high quality, and confidential citizenship and immigration law services to help immigrants on their path to U.S. citizenship in nine centers located throughout New York City.  Services include confidential one-on-one consultations with immigration attorneys and paralegals, as well as citizenship and family immigration application assistance.  Additionally, for help with citizenship applications on weekends, an individual can come to one of the Citizenship Now! events where the individual can be helped free of charge. These events are generally held on Saturdays. To volunteer at weekend events, join the NYC/CUNY Citizenship Now! Corps.

The CUNY School of Professional Studies Immigration Law Studies Certificate Program allows students to learn about the complex and ever-changing field of immigration law and regulation. These innovative courses offer a unique opportunity for those working with immigrants and their employers and families to understand law and regulations governing immigration and citizenship, learn how to comply with rapidly evolving immigration policies, learn how to file petitions and applications, witness immigration court proceedings first hand, work with top CUNY faculty and legal experts, and gain expertise to advanced professionally.

As if the work done by the two CUNY programs were not enough, both programs support a monthly webinar series titled “Selected Issues on Citizenship and Immigration Law” a monthly series of FREE webinars designed to provide up-to-date information on various vital immigration law topics to practitioners and community advocates.  The webinar is presented by prominent experts in the field and managed and moderated by a leading expert in the immigration field, me!  Designed to educate the public regarding vital immigration law topics, the webinar series is an important program.  Did I mention the webinar was FREE?

The upcoming webinar, titled “Winning a Marriage Case” will discuss how the husbands and wives of both U.S. citizens and permanent residents may qualify for an immigrant visa. This webinar will cover the rules for qualifying for an immigrant visa based on marriage and how to prepare a couple for a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services interview regarding the bona fides (the genuineness) of the marriage. Participants in the webinar will get acquainted with the rules for qualifying for permanent residence based on marriage, learn about the preparation of an I-130 family petition in a marriage case, and supporting documents, and hear tips on how to prepare a couple for a successful marriage interview. The webinar will be held on Thursday, January 20, 2010 from 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. For more information and to register, go to: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/778136411.  Upcoming topics include Adjustment of Status and Immigrant Eligibility for Public Benefits.  Did I mention it was Free?

Patricia Wonder is an Instructor at CUNY School of Professional Studies, and a Partner at Johnson Wonder PLLC.  She manages and moderates the monthly webinar series titled “Selected Issues on Citizenship and Immigration Law” for CUNY Citizenship Now!  She has been working in the immigration field for more than fourteen years. She is passionate about advocating for immigrant rights and she loves valuable advice that is free.