IMPORTA is committed to the integration of Santa Barbara’s large immigrant population into the mainstream of our county's civic life.
IMPORTA believes that fluency in English and a path to citizenship are key elements in the successful integration of Santa Barbara County's immigrant population.
To facilitate the integration process, IMPORTA...
•Developed and received Justice Department approval for the County’s first non-profit immigration legal program with authority to represent clients before the USCIS which has enabled us to
• Has provided legal representation for hundreds of local immigrants in obtaining citizenship, DACA (for undocumented immigrants brought here as children), Adjustment of Status, and Asylum.
• Was the only organization in Santa Barbara County to receive a California state grant under the OneCalifornia program to provide free naturalization and DACA services. During the early months of the program IMPORTA has filed hundreds of DACA and naturalization applications without charge. Clients have come to IMPORTA for its high-quality services from the entire Southern California region.
Additionally, IMPORTA is working to develop and support
• Recreational, educational, and vocational training programs for immigrant youth and
• Projects and programs that build mutual trust and cultural understanding between Santa Barbara’s immigrant community and the established non-immigrant community.
IMPORTA is authorized by the Justice Department to represent and provide legal counsel for low-income immigrants
DACA for immigrants brought by their parents when they were 15 or younger
Naturalization for Green Card holders wishing to become citizens
Consultations for those with immigration problems, including possible deportation
Adjustment of Status, Hardship Waivers, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U-visa, and Asylum
IMPORTA's Advice to Immigrants
Following the Election of Donald Trump
During the recent presidential campaign, the president-elect stated his intention to build an enormous wall along the Mexican border, to deport millions of undocumented aliens, and to end the DACA program. He also stated his intention to make dozens of other radical changes if elected. It is clear that much of what he said he would do will not happen for a variety of reasons. Here are some reasons why the effect on immigrants, although very bad, will fall far short of what he claimed he would do:
1. Big business which controls much of the elected Republican members of the House and the Senate, does not want large deportations. Agriculture and the service industry need low-cost foreign labor and high-tech companies need educated engineers and scientists from other countries.
2. Large increases in money for the Department of Homeland Security has resulted in about 400,000 deportations per year, and the immigration courts are now overloaded and backlogged. It will cost a lot to hire and train new judges and it will be a slow process. Mass deportation would not only create a human rights disaster but would be extremely expensive The Republican Congress does not like increasing expenditures, and most immigrants without past deportations or criminal records should be safe for many years. DACA recipients are the lowest priority for deportation.
3. Congress will be distracted for a very long time with fights over the vacant Supreme Court seat, Obamacare, international trade, infrastructure spending, and cutting taxes for the wealthy. Trump's proposed changes are highly controversial and will drain resources and energy from his extremely costly deportation plans.
4. DACA, in particular, is a very popular program with many success stories. Many leading Republicans have supported "Dream Act" legislation in the past and are not likely to approve of the deportation of DACA recipients.
5. The most effective way to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants is making the eVerify program mandatory for businesses. This would have terrible economic consequences and would result in a great increase in "self-deportation."
6. The likely new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is very anti-immigrant. The immigration courts will be under his control and many immigration benefits are discretionary and available only "with the approval of the Attorney General." Some of these benefits such as asylum, u-visas, and various waivers, may become much harder to attain in the future.
WHAT ABOUT DACA?
Unfortunately, the National Immigrant Legal Center has released an advisory stating that it is dangerous to file a new DACA application because applicants will be providing the government with information that may be used to locate and deport them.
Not only does this advice add to fear and rumors, but it is shows a misunderstanding of government functioning and lack of understanding of political process.
IMPORTA's Recommendations to those thinking of applying for DACA:
IMPORTA recommends that anyone who thinks they are eligible for DACA should be be fully advised on the benefits and risks. Any criminal or immigration history should be carefully researched and analyzed. If qualified for DACA there are two choices:
1. Wait to see if the program is cancelled and processing stops on new and renewal applications. In that case you would lose the government fee for DACA ($485, increasing to $515 on December 23st).
2. Go ahead and apply for DACA because it is possible that the DACA program won't be immediately cancelled but instead will be phased out. For example, new applications might not be accepted, but those already received would be processed and approved. If that happens, waiting would mean losing an opportunity to get DACA.
What about the danger of the government hunting down DACA applicants using information on locations given in applications as the NILC warns?
We feel that this is extremely unlikely given the popularity of the DACA program and the intention to focus on "criminal aliens" repeated again and again by Trump.
Dreamers symbolize the good immigrants who have been vetted by the government and been approved. They are the lowest priority for deportation. It is a major protection to be part of the pre-approved DACA group. Not applying for DACA because of fear of giving information to the government is unjustified.