Scam artists prey on undocumented youth

FRESNO, California

You have 25 pages to go through in the application and employment authorization. Applicants should be wary of scam artists.

The Deferred Action Help Center near Fresno State is always full of students and others asking questions about how to fill out the forms. Some want to know if they qualify. Services offered here are free.

But Jessica Smith Bobadilla of the New American Legal Clinic explained, "If they tell you the filing fees are much different than been announced. That is $380 for the work authorization and $85 for the fingerprints. If those things aren't matching up that's another sign."

Legal clinic director Justin Atkinson said, "There's a major problem with immigration fraud here. If you get anything from what I'm saying now, do not go to notario. Do not go to a notary public. They are not authorized to practice law in the United States."

Atkinson said his clinic offers free legal services at the Mexican Consulate in Fresno on Thursday afternoons.

Reyna Torres of the Mexican Consulate added, "Be aware of those who ask you for money and tell you that they will resolve this in a couple of weeks. That's not true. It's a lengthy process. You have to gather your documents."

But Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League worried social security numbers could be used to track people down instead of helping people in the application process.

Cunha said, "I worry about the employers because they're going to have a hit list. ICE is going to have a hit list of all employers from the farming industry to the restaurants and that's a shame."

To be eligible for deferred action undocumented residents must be under 31 years old, have entered the US before turning 16, be enrolled in school or have a high school diploma and be without a serious criminal record.

If you're going through the application process you don't have to pay for the forms on-line or in person.

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