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Filipinos warned of TPS scams

/ 08:58 AM February 11, 2014

Robert Yabes of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO—Immigration specialists from the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County warned Filipinos to beware of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) scams and to rely instead on licensed professionals for their visa problems.

“TPS has not yet been granted, so no one should be charging Filipinos for TPS services,” warned lawyer Roela Vazquez, who represents Catholic Charities clients before the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, at a press conference at Fort McKinley restaurant.

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Vasquez said some unscrupulous “immigration advisers” may be charging clients thousands of dollars for nonexistent TPS adjustments. “Seek advice from licensed lawyers or accredited immigration nonprofits instead.”

Robert Yabes, also of Catholic Charities, explained that another opportunity for status adjustment, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has had disappointing Filipino turnouts.

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Of 537,000 applicants from the 1.7 million potential petitioners, only four percent are Asians, of which only 0.7 percent are Filipinos. “They may be victims of misinformation, afraid of exposure,” Yabes said. He said further that many Filipinos might be fatalistic and prone to procrastination.

Juan Gil Vasquez also of Catholic Charities and a former asylum officer at the Department of Homeland security, explained the benefits of applying for TPS should it be approved by the State Department.

Vasquez said in his experience with other countries’ TPS, he doubts that anyone would be deported after the protected status runs out. In fact, coming out could be a stepping-stone to status regularization.

“It’s a human rights issue that would be difficult for the government to ignore,” he said.

Vasquez also explained various alternatives for out-of-status immigrants other than TPS.

“There are adjustment benefits for victims of qualifying crimes,” Vasquez said.

“There’s the T-visa for victims of trafficking, and many Filipino teachers hired from the Philippines by unscrupulous recruiters are included in this.”

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There’s also a visa adjustment opportunity for victims of domestic abuse in the US, as a result of the Violence against Women Act, she added.

The three stressed the importance of going to licensed professionals and accredited nonprofits like Catholic Charities for advice on how to come out of the shadows and become authorized immigrants.

Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County can be reached at (408) 325-5279; www.catholiccharitiesscc.org.

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TAGS: Immigration, temporary protected status, TPS, Undocumented, US visas
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