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Saturday, July 22, 2017


UH Law helps immigrants

Geoffrey Hoffman is a faculty supervising attorney at UH Law’s Immigration Clinic where illegal immigrants can take advantage of the new deferred action policy.  |  Nine Nguyen/The Daily Cougar

Geoffrey Hoffman is a faculty supervising attorney at UH Law’s Immigration Clinic where illegal immigrants can take advantage of the new deferred action policy. | Nine Nguyen/The Daily Cougar

On Aug. 15, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting requests from applicants interested in benefiting from deferred action under the Deferred Action Executive Policy.

President Barack Obama announced the Deferred Action Executive Policy on June 15. The executive policy allows for people who immigrated to the U.S. as children to defer prosecutorial removal from the country, according to the USCIS.

“It is very significant because it is a ground of temporary relief from deportation,” said faculty supervising attorney for the UH Law Center, Geoffrey Hoffman.

In order to be considered, the applicant must meet certain criteria — including arrival in the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday and not posing a threat to the country.

The University of Houston Law Center’s Immigration Clinic is helping students and members of the community utilize the new executive policy.

“The Deferred Action Initiative was put together for our immigration clinic,” said Janet Heppard, associate professor of clinical practice at the UH Law Center. “It allows our second- and third-year law students to gain experience in this field. … It became one more area of immigration law that would be good for our students to know.”

Immigration Attorney Jill Campbell defines the deferred action initiative as a program consisting of limited one-on-one consultations and informational session with non-legal students through the UH system.

“Our clinic has been receiving about 25 phone calls per week from UH students and non-UH students,” Campbell said. “With the help of our law students in the immigration clinic, we have (consulted with) about 65 applicants thus far, and have many more scheduled for the future.”

Heppard also cleared up some misconceptions about deferred action.

“It’s not a law, it’s an executive policy that the president put in place, and it essentially defers deportation for people who qualify.”

The National Immigration Law Center makes it clear that meeting all requirements doesn’t necessarily guarantee deferment.

“Deferred action will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Even if you meet the requirements outlined below, the Department of Homeland Security will still have to decide whether to grant you deferred action,” it says.

Students from the UH Law Center’s Immigration Clinic are doing presentations on the policy.

“Our faculty and students have done one presentation so far at the UH main campus,” Heppard said.

Additional presentations will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 13 at UH Downtown and 12:30 to 2 p.m. Sept. 19  at UH Clear Lake. A teleconference with UH Victoria students is tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. Sept. 19.

“They are giving information to the students,” Heppard said. “We have had students calling in because there is potential to get one-on-one time with our students and attorneys to answer questions and look at their forms.”

The one-on-one sessions begin Friday, and students participating in the Immigration Clinic are nearly booked.

Additional reporting by Amanda Hilow.

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