New policy a game changer for Park City Hispanics | ParkRecord.com

New policy a game changer for Park City Hispanics

Gina Barker, The Park Record

The phone was ringing off the hook in Notaria Abogados Traducciones, a Park City immigration attorney’s offices. Locals called in their questions to Sorcia Amparo, a well-known member of the Hispanic community and legal assistant at the office.

"In the first day, I recieved probably 15 calls," Amparo said, "all from Park City. They have many questions."

¿Qué significa?

They were calling about the recent announcement from the Obama Administration a new policy that would grant deferred action to some 800,000 illegal immigrants.

In an executive order, the president instructed the Department of Homeland Security to stop deportations of any low-risk illegal immigrants under the age of 30, guidelines similar to the failed DREAM Act.

Nationally, heads turned to the implications on the presidential race this fall, but at the community level people want to know: What does this mean for employers and employees?

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"This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix," said President Barrack Obama in his speech discussing the changes. "This is a temporary, stop-gap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope."

The DREAM Act was a bill that would have provided illegal immigrants in good standing who were under 30 years old and brought into the country by their parents a path to citizenship. Defeated last year by Senate Republicans, the bill fell from headlines until the Obama Administration’s announcement.

"People have children in the university or children who have graduated," Amparo said. "But they can’t work because they don’t have a work visa. They graduate with good grades and they can’t work."

Amparo worked at the Park City High School, a place she said put her on the frontlines of this issue. She saw the graduates going on to college or looking for a job, but getting a job that matched their degrees was not possible. In the coming weeks, Amparo plans hold a meeting to address any questions about the new policy and its potential impacts.

The policy shift would allow illegal immigrants who meet the criteria to apply for a job or go to college. If deferred action is granted and they are not deported, an illegal immigrant who meets the criteria would have a two-year pass to stay in the U.S. with an option to renew.

But what the guidelines will specifically look like or how to apply for a work visa is still up in the air as the administration drafts guidelines for U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services.

The official guidelines are up to two months away, leaving both USCIS and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Field Offices in a limbo while waiting for word from above.

"As soon as we get guidance, we’ll let people know," said the Utah Field Office Director, Jeanne Kent. "There is nothing indicating procedures at this point, but answers are on the way."

Kent said one of her biggest concerns is that already vulnerable populations could be the target of new scams, false promises of work documentation or worse.

"If someone comes out saying for a thousand dollars they can take care of it, it’s important not to fall for it," she added. "That’s an immigration scam.

"With policy changes like this one, rumors often start and people get concerned. We’ve already had people coming in and asking questions, but we have to tell them we don’t have the information yet."

For businesses concerned with what the policy shift would mean for hiring procedures, the answers are already available: employers are responsible for checking work authorization. The Obama Administration has been responsible for nearly doubling the ICE audits since 2009. According to national Immigration and Customs Enforcement data, the number of worksite cases initiated by the department jumped from 1,461 in 2009 to nearly double at 2,746 cases. Over the past four years there have been more ICE I-9 audits, implementing mandatory use of E-Verify and larger fines for hiring and harboring illegal workers.