A Stanislaus County advocacy group is seeking volunteers to help several hundred young people apply for a federal program that allows qualified immigrants who illegally entered the United States to stay in this country and work without fear of deportation.
The Obama administration in June announced it would ease enforcement of immigration laws, deferring deportation of young people who illegally entered the country as children with their families and have remained here ever since.
To help residents avoid the high costs of legal help, the Dream Act Deferred Coalition of Stanislaus County has held community forums to educate the public about the change in immigration policy.
The coalition of individuals and community groups also has scheduled three free workshops in the next two months, where volunteers can speak with applicants, examine their documents and determine whether they're ready to submit their applications to the federal government.
Homero Mejia, one of the coalition's organizers, said the community has spent a lot of time and resources educating these young people. He said the coalition and its volunteers now can help them give back to this community through their work.
"You're giving them an opportunity to get ahead," said Mejia, of Congregations Building Community, one of several local groups participating in the effort.
Workshop organizers hope to have 50 to 100 volunteers. Before the workshops, the coalition is gathering the volunteers for a training session Sept. 15 at the Stanislaus County Agricultural Center, 3800 Cornucopia Way, off Crows Landing Road.
The coalition seeks volunteers who are:
Very detail-oriented: Applicants need a long list of documents to prove they are in good standing with the government and meet all the program's requirements. If all required documents are not submitted, the government will not accept the application.
One-on-one volunteers: Large groups of applicants will be brought into the workshops to fill out their applications together. As a presenter goes through the form, other volunteers will step in to help those who are confused with segments of the application.
Document translators: An extract translation of an applicant's birth certificate will need to be done. Bilingual volunteers, especially those who speak Spanish, will be needed to translate the documents.
Organizers say only the document translators need to be bilingual, and any volunteer help is appreciated.
For more information about becoming a volunteer, call (209) 523-2860.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2394.
Here are the dates for the upcoming free deportation deferral workshops in Stanislaus County:
Sept. 22: Hanshaw Middle School, 1725 Las Vegas St., Modesto
Oct. 13: California State University, Stanislaus, West Monte Vista Avenue and Crowell Road, Turlock (location on campus will be e-mailed to participants)
Oct. 27: Argus High School, 2555 Lawrence St., Ceres
You must be registered to attend: Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your location preference and date on the subject line. For example: Hanshaw, Sept. 22. Or call (209) 523-2860.