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UH Students Get New Immigration Resource

The federal government now grants some undocumented immigrants — who were brought here as children — permits to stay in the country for up to two years without fear of deportation. But it's a complicated process and some legal experts are reaching out to immigrants to help them navigate the system.

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It’s said that next to the tax code, immigration law in the United States is the second most complicated on the books.

That’s one of the reasons the University of Houston Law School offers an immigration clinic where people can go for free advice on everything from political asylum to human trafficking.

Jill Campbell is one of the supervising attorneys in the immigration law clinic.

She says they plan to offer “know your rights” seminars to UH students to help them understand the new deferred action program.

“Deferred action basically means that the government knows that you’re illegally but they won’t deport you. It’s not a green card, it’s not a path to citizenship. You can also apply in this program for a work authorization and when you are granted deferred action and work authorization, it will be for a term of two years.”

The program only applies to undocumented immigrants under the age of 31, who were brought here before reaching their 16th birthday. Eligible applicants also can’t have a criminal record.

An estimated 210,000 people living in Texas may be eligible.

Janet Heppard is the director of the clinical program at UH. She says they decided to offer advice on the deferred action program because of the potential for scams in the community.

“The big reason for this effort, especially for our UH students, is to make sure that they are getting correct information and good advice. Everybody knows there are people out in the community that may try to use this as a way to take money from someone and not have the correct information, give them wrong information, and that is really bad.”

Heppard says one possible scam is for someone to reach out to immigrants and promise to get their applications approved, but then to run off with their application money instead.

In the past two months since the program was announced by the federal government, the immigration clinic has fielded numerous phone calls from people asking how to apply.

Heppard says they expect several hundred students from various UH campuses to seek their help.

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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