The San Juan School District,and planning committee members held a free workshop about immigration policies on July 16, in the San Juan County Community Theatre.
The speaker covered the recent supreme court case and policies like the Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals and Differed Action for Parental Accountability.
“Even if you have a deportation order, it is important to know you can have it adjudicated,” said key note speaker Douglas D. Interiano, founder of Proyecto Inmigrante, an immigration counseling organization, and U.S. Department of Justice and Board of Immigration Appeals accredited lawyer.
As long as there is not a final order, according to Interiano, you may still apply for differed action.
Interiano spoke in English and in Spanish to audience members, which were largely from Hispanic and Latino island communities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, San Juan County is 17.6 percent Hispanic or Latino and 13.1 percent of San Juan County are foreign born. In 2008, the islands faced its largest immigration incident when three men with local connections were deported and five others who were San Juan Island residents were taken into custody by the U.S. Coast Guard for possible immigration violations.
Interiano went through the qualifications and documents needed. For both, you must live consistently in the United States for at least five years and be enrolled in school, or a GED program is a start for qualifying. Having a criminal record, does not necessarily disqualify you unless you have a felony or significant misdemeanors, which includes things like domestic violence, sexual assault burglary, firearm offenses, and drug distribution or trafficking, according to Interiano. Minor traffic violations, he said, are generally not a problem.
If an applicant is denied, Interiano warned, it is a final decision. It may not be appealed, reconsidered or reopened, though a denied applicant is not barred from reapplying.
The Superior Court recently came to a 4-4, or non-decision, regarding a case involving President Obama’s immigration policies sending the matter back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case involved Obama’s executive orders to protect non-criminal undocumented immigrants from deportation. Two issues are in contention with the Obama policies: the expansion of the already-existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the creation of the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.
It’s hard to say what will happen next, according to Interiano, whatever the outcome, it is possible it could be appealed back to the Supreme Court.
San Juan Island School District Superintendent Danna Diaz thanked all of those involved in planning the workshop and the San Juan Community Foundation for providing a grant.
Diaz also encouraged more involvement.
“It is satellite office (for Proyecto Inmigrante) here in the San Juans, but we need to hear from you. It would take some time and planning, but if that is what you want we could do it,” she said.