Kalamazoo non-profit tries to help answer questions about deferred deportation option

Aug 24, 2012

A non-profit organization in Kalamazoo is trying to help young undocumented immigrants sort through a new federal process that could prevent them from getting deported.

The director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the process earlier this month.

Lori Mercedes is the Executive Director of the Kalamazoo-based Hispanic American Council. She says many immigrants have been calling with questions about the process but are nervous about exposing their legal status.

“This brought it up to the light and forced a conversation about it. It made it into an issue; now we have to talk about it,” Mercedes said. “It’s exciting…we can tell our kids go ahead and dream and have hope. There is hope for you after all.”

The plan does not provide a path to citizenship. But it’s seen as a way for young immigrants with no criminal record to avoid confrontation with federal officials.

The process will allow some people who came to the US before they were 16 to avoid being deported. They must have a clean record, among other requirements.

The Hispanic American Council is offering people who think they may qualify a chance to speak with an attorney about their status on Saturday and Tuesday. An open question and answer session begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at the council.