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Outreach Begins For Immigrants Who May Be Wary to Come 'Out of the Shadows'

Photo by Jorge Corona
A student on the UT-Austin campus protests the deportation of undocumented immigrants.

The specifics of how undocumented people will register under the immigration overhaul announced by President Obama last week that would bring nearly 5 million immigrants "out of the shadows" are still unclear.  But some groups in Austin are already reaching out to people who may benefit.  

Bill Beardall is with the Equal Justice Center, one of the groups organizing a series of educational forums for immigrants that start this week.   He says after this kind of policy change, immigrants are often initially reluctant to register.

“But as they see that it’s working and as over time their friends and their family and their neighbors realize the kind of life change this can mean for them more and more people come forward," says Beardall.

The "deferred action" announced by the President last week, will allow some people currently living in the US to continue to live and work here without the risk of deportation for the next three years. It is generally assumed that people who fall in this category (many of them the parents of legal US citizens) will be allowed to stay and work beyond that three year window. 

Beardall suspects the administrative process will look a lot like the one that took shape under the President's deferred action for childhood arrivals.  The forums will help people learn whether they qualify, tell them what kind of paperwork they might need, and teach them to avoid scams artists that prey on immigrants.

“It always happens when there is immigration reform that some unscrupulous fraudsters will come forward and try to trick people into paying them money.” 

The first of several Austin forums will take place tomorrow at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church on East 9th Street. 

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.
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