Staff Attorney Alexandra Bonazoli of the Central West Justice Center, visited the QCC campus earlier this month to discuss some of the recent changes to immigration and immigration policies. Over 25 students, faculty and staff attended the informal discussion that focused on the current administration’s decision to rescind the DACA program. DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was an immigration policy that allowed people who entered the U.S. as minors, either illegally or remained in the country illegally, to receive a two-year renewable period of deferred action from deportation and then they could become eligible for a work permit.
Ms. Bonazoli discussed possible options for people who are being impacted by this decision, such as temporary protected status or “TPS.” TPS is a temporary immigration status to the U.S., granted to eligible nationals of designated countries. However, certain countries that currently have TPS status may also be losing their status, Ms. Bonazoli told those in attendance, adding that it is imperative to stay abreast of current information and be aware of what is going on.
She said there are other options after DACA, which may be available to people on a case-by-case basis.
“We don’t know any sooner than anyone else knows what is going to happen,” Ms. Bonazoli said. “However, if you think one of the programs you are in may be ending, the best thing you can do is seek legal advice.”
Ms. Bonazoli cautioned people to make sure they obtain the correct information about their options.
“You won’t know you have options until you come in and find out,” she said. “Be very careful to not give your money to someone for immigration advice who is not an attorney. There’s lots of scams out there. Be mindful of who you are going to for advice.”
The Central West Justice Center provides free legal services to low-income and elderly families and individuals in central and western Massachusetts.
“The legal services in our office are free and most attorneys speak Spanish. We also have someone in-house who speaks Portuguese and we have access to a language phone service,” Ms. Bonazoli said.
For those who are interested in contacting the Central West Justice Center they can visit www.cwjustice.org and apply for help using the online form or by calling toll-free at 855-252-5342.