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Legal help for immigrants seeking citizenship

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hundreds of people packed the Mexican Consulate in Fresno Saturday for a chance to learn more about a pathway to citizenship.

Saturdays event offered free services to local families interested in applying for deferred action. One teenager who hopes the federal program will give her an opportunity to get a higher education.

Fifteen-year-old high school student Diana Yaque has a dream.

"I want to be a police officer," Yaque said.

By attending a fair held by the United Farm Workers of America, and the Mexican Consulate, Yaque took the first steps to make her dream come true. Yaque came to America from Guatemala when she was ten.

"My mom came here first, she started working and then she brought us here to have a better future," Yaque said.

She and many others at the consulate spent the day applying for deferred action. The federal program is open to young people who came to the United States before they were 16.

Organizers said it helps them avoid deportation and gives them a work permit for up to two years. On Saturday immigration lawyers gave Yaque and dozens of others free legal advice.

"Many in the community might want to check if they qualify for deferred action and they don't know if they can, so we are holding this event so they don't feel uncomfortable," said Clarita Cortes from the United Farm Workers.

Yaque says getting accepted will give her the same playing field as her classmates.

"They can do a lot of other things that we can't do. They can go to college because they have papers and everything like that but we can't because we don't have that opportunity because we need the papers to go," Yaque said.

The forum took place right before the senate takes its first vote on a revised immigration reform bill on Monday. Supporters say the bill provides undocumented immigrants a pathway to an earned citizenship. But opponents call it amnesty for law breakers.

Political experts say even if this revised immigration reform bill passes the senate it still faces a very tough battle in the house.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
fresno, fresno county, immigration, local, mariana jacob
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