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Immigrants Wait, Plan for Obama Order  11/20 06:05

   Immigrants in the country illegally already are flooding attorneys' offices 
with calls to see if they can qualify under President Barack Obama's 
yet-to-be-announced plan to shield as many as 5 million immigrants from 
deportation.

   SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- Immigrants in the country illegally already are 
flooding attorneys' offices with calls to see if they can qualify under 
President Barack Obama's yet-to-be-announced plan to shield as many as 5 
million immigrants from deportation.

   Obama said he'll reveal the long-awaited order on Thursday. Alex Galvez, an 
immigration lawyer in Los Angeles, said he's going to need to add phone lines 
to keep up with the demand. Orange County, California-based immigration lawyer 
Annaluisa Padilla said she's getting twice as many calls as usual since buzz 
intensified over the plan, which would also grant the immigrants work permits.

   "It's like the golden ticket," she said. "Everybody who is calling my office 
is asking how can I get a work permit under Obama's program? I am like, there 
is no Obama program yet."

   Obama is expected to take executive action to protect many of the estimated 
11 million people in the country illegally from deportation after Congress 
failed to pass an immigration overhaul. Republicans are vehemently opposed to 
the president's likely actions, with some conservative members threatening to 
pursue a government shutdown if he follows through on his promises to act on 
immigration before the end of the year.

   While Obama has yet to reveal the details of his administrative order, 
immigrant advocates are gearing up to help millions determine if they are 
eligible to apply and steer them clear of fraudulent consultants and so-called 
notarios, who have been known to take immigrants' money and promise to deliver 
even when they don't qualify for benefits.

   Immigrant advocacy groups in Southern California are planning workshops to 
inform community members about the order, including a 12,000-person forum at 
the Los Angeles Convention Center in mid-December, said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, a 
spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

   The New Mexico Immigrant Law Center is planning a to start a text messaging 
system targeting immigrants across the state, especially those in rural areas 
where legal services might not be easily accessible. Immigrant advocates in 
Florida are planning the same, and will also start a hotline in English and 
Spanish to keep community members informed.

   In New York, immigration lawyers and nonprofits are preparing to hold 
clinics to help screen immigrants for the program.

   Mayra Gallegos, a 33-year-old mother of two and trained nurse, is pinning 
her hopes on Obama's plan. She came from Mexico a decade ago to join her 
husband, who has since gotten a green card. Her younger son was born here, and 
is an American. But she and her elder son have not been able to get their 
papers.

   "What Obama is going to do, if he does it, would really help me and my son," 
said Gallegos, who hopes to find a job as a nurse should she receive a work 
permit. "We're always watching to see if there's any news."

   But some advocates warned immigrants not to get their hopes up yet --- 
especially with lawmakers threatening to thwart Obama's plan.

   "What I am telling my families to do is be prepared for war. We're going to 
see a legislative arm do whatever they can to stop the president," said Jessica 
Dominguez, an immigration attorney in Southern California. "I am not going to 
let my community be saddened again by words. We need action."


(KA)


 
 
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