Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was a huge advance for the immigration policy in the United States. DACA has impacted our office greatly and can be considered the biggest immigration policy of the United States this decade. What astonishes me the most is how many individuals benefited from DACA. From teenagers to adults with families, DACA has helped a lot of people out. Some of our clients had gone their whole life without knowing they didn’t have status in the United States. Of course this causes problems in the family, but now there is an option for these undocumented immigrants. When DACA was announced, our office prepared for it. We familiarized ourselves with the forms, bought a new copy machine, hired another staff member, and prepared ourselves for the documentation we would need to request from the client. DACA packages in our office cover every month of every year so there is minimal chance of a denial. Our clients appreciate the time and professionalism that goes into our DACA packages. Every page of our packages is numbered and identifiable on the table of contents. After hearing stories from our clients about other attorneys in the area, we know that this is what sets our office apart and is why we receive many referrals from previous clients. I have seen DACAs bring joy to many people, even some peers that I went to high school with. It brings me joy knowing that individuals my age no longer have to be ashamed or in hiding, but now embrace that they have some form of status in the United States. Also, with the immigration reform that passed in the senate, the “Dreamers” may have a path to citizenship!
Notario fraud is a big issue in this country and is jeopardizing many immigrants. The biggest issue for the victims of fraud is the money they wasted by not going to an accredited attorney or legal representative. It is very unfortunate because once they have become a victim of fraud, they now have to hire an attorney to fix the mistakes that a notario got paid for. The immigrants that fall victim to these frauds admit that they went to them because it was cheap and they thought the notarios can provide legal services for them. I have seen countless cases of notario fraud that almost seem intentional. It is one thing to maybe have a typographical error, but the victims of these frauds have their whole applications with errors. Not only will a notario charge for filing out the form, but they also misquote on the appropriate fees needed for USCIS. One trend that occurs with our clients that were victims is that the notario always requested USCIS’s application fees in cash. When we ask if they received a receipt, majority respond “no”. The same victims that don’t receive a receipt for the fees are always scammed out of extra cash that is not the appropriate fee that USCIS would request for that case. It is up to attorneys to stop notario fraud and focus on helping these families come together and start a new life in this country. Our office is very big on stopping notario fraud and some local businesses allow our office to put up fliers and memos received from USCIS regarding notario fraud to assure innocent families do not become victims of this horrible scam.
Over the course of my employment, I have put in many service requests with USCIS. A service request is done when there is an error on a case, its past normal processing times, or to update some information. USCIS is great at putting in service requests. After the long wait to speak to an officer, if there is an error, past processing times, or you need to update information; the officers effortlessly put in a service request for the case. You are given a control number when the request has been made and are given a date, usually within 30 days, that you should receive a response to your request. This is where I have an issue with USCIS. The clients usually inform our office about an issue with their case, and as the office manager it is my duty to make the clients happy. In return, I contact USCIS to put in a request. Upon completion of the request, I notify the client of the information I received from the USCIS Officer. The date that the officer gives you is never accurate to receive a response. This is very frustrating for the client and our office. In my 4+ years dealing with USCIS, they have never been accurate on their estimated times. I understand that USCIS is a large entity and has many cases, but they need a new direction when it comes to quoting time frames. Many immigrants wait years to gain a path towards citizenship and to be deceived by the agency granting them these benefits can be very stressful for their whole family. I hope that one day USCIS can have a better understanding of the frustration that comes with their “estimated times”.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act has given many people the opportunity and benefits they have been waiting years for. In light of the ruling, same-sex couples can now petition for their spouses. I believe this is going to help individuals that have had to hide all these years from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Now individuals that are in this country illegally have a path to citizenship. Our country is still young and we have a lot of room for improvement, but with DOMA being struck down, now homosexuals and undocumented immigrants are given equality they deserve in this country we call home!
I work for a local law firm in Tracy, California that specializes in immigration. In the past four years, I have dealt with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) on a daily basis. The biggest flaw with USCIS’s system is trying to speak with an officer to answer questions about cases. The wait time to speak to an officer wasn’t always horrible, averaging between 20-30 minutes. The problem is USCIS implemented a new service where you can be reached by email, wait on the phone, or receive a callback within 48 hours. Once this service was implemented, if you chose to wait on the phone, the wait times now average between 45-60 minutes. One thing that I have noticed over the years, whatever the wait time says, double it and that is your real wait time. It is very frustrating waiting for such a long time, but it really is your only option. When choosing the email options, I NEVER received an email from an officer. When choosing the call back option, I NEVER received a call back from an officer to discuss a case. It is my job to contact USCIS and every time it is a dreadful experience. What saddens me is the immigrants not represented by an attorney waiting this long to get an update on their case. Our country is not giving a good first impression having people wait for hours to speak to an officer. I think that USCIS should go back to their old ways of waiting to speak to an officer because the new system doesn’t give the officers the opportunity to really answer the questions.