Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Government Resources

Central to MOIA’s vision is our goal of connecting all Angelenos, regardless of immigration status, to the resources and services they need in order to thrive in Los Angeles. MOIA’s strength lies in our relationships with government and community stakeholders, as well as our ability to connect people to the resources and services they need to succeed. Below is a list of government resources gathered for particular issues facing immigrant Angelenos.  

 

Deferred Action Programs (DACA/DAPA)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is not currently accepting applications for the expanded DACA program for youth or the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. USCIS continues to accept renewal applications and initial applications from people who qualify under the DACA criteria announced in June 2012.

 

You are eligible to request consideration for deferred action (DACA) if you:

  • Were born AFTER June 15, 1981;
  • Came to the United States BEFORE your 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently EITHER in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran; and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

 

How to apply for the original DACA program:

  1. Collect documents (e.g., school records, medical records, financial records, employment records, military records) as evidence that you meet the above guidelines.
  2. Visit USCIS’s website to download and print the forms for deferred action and work authorization (www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals). Forms also available below.
  3. Complete and mail the completed forms to USCIS with the necessary fees (at this time, USCIS has stated that fees will be $465 in total for deferred action and work authorization). 
  4.  Visit your local USCIS Application Support Center for a scheduled biometrics services appointment.
  5. Check the status of your request online

 

DACA Resources:

 

Employment Discrimination

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) provides free resources and support for immigrant communities. The DOJ operates an anonymous hotline where anyone can call with questions or allegations of discrimination. In appropriate circumstances, they may call the worker’s employer at that moment and stop a worker from losing his or her job.

 

Employment Discrimination Resources:

  • DOJ Anonymous Hotline: 800-255-7688

 

Consumer Protection

In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) developed and published the Newcomer’s Guides to Managing Money in order to help recent immigrants with limited English proficiency navigate the American financial system and have straightforward information about basic financial decisions. The four guides cover the following topics: ways to receive your money, checklist for opening an account, ways to pay your bills, and selecting financial products and services. You may download the guides below.

 

Consumer Protection Resources:

 

Unaccompanied Minors

Mayor Garcetti and MOIA have prioritized the needs of unaccompanied minors. In the summer of 2014, Mayor Garcetti met with the Department of Health and Human Services’ regional office in California and over 40 non-profit organizations, faith leaders, and philanthropies to address the needs of unaccompanied minors. Working closely with the California Community Foundation, they created a fund to assist these unaccompanied minors coming mainly from Central America.  

 

Facts about unaccompanied minors:

  • At the end of 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expected the number of unaccompanied immigrant minors in the U.S. to reach 90,000.
  • As minors, they are taken under custody by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and placed in temporary shelters throughout the country. After screening, they are put under the legal guardianship of their respective sponsors while they await court proceedings. 
  • There are currently more than 2,000 unaccompanied minors residing with sponsors in Los Angeles County.
  • 90% of minors are reunited with a family member.
  • When they are awaiting court proceedings and no longer in the custody of HHS, these minors are reunited with family members. However, due to their unique circumstances, they are often in great need of both social and legal resources.

 

The Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs has created the following strategy to address this issue:

  1. Convenings: Convened local stakeholders from the philanthropic, non-profit, government, legal, and religious communities to coordinate efforts help unaccompanied minors in the local Los Angeles area.
  2. Relief Fund: Created a fund for unaccompanied minors with the Weingart Foundation, California Community Foundation, and the California Endowment that will provide funding and organization to provide social and legal resources to Central American communities.
  3. Partnered with the Salvation Army together with the City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Team and the Mayor’s Office to create an in-kind donation drive.

In 2015, MOIA also hosted the Brazos Abiertos Resource Fair in November at the El Pueblo Historical Monument with CARECEN, Jovenes Inc., and CLUE-LA to bring much-needed legal and health services to Central American unaccompanied minors. The event attracted over 450 minors and their family members. 87 new adjustment of status cases were opened on-site.

 

Unaccompanied Minors Resources:

 

Refugees

The admission of refugees to the U.S. has been a time-honored policy since the enactment of the Displaced Persons Act of 1948. The City of Los Angeles is a proud standard-bearer of this tradition as the home of the largest immigrant population in the country. Many of our strongest communities have immigrant backgrounds, comprised of former refugees who sought a new beginning. Los Angeles is stronger and richer because of their contributions, and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will continue to reinforce our commitment to opportunity.

In September, Mayor Garcetti was joined by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, and 13 other mayors in signing a letter to President Obama endorsing his Syrian resettlement program and asking him to expand the program beyond the 10,000 Syrians the president committed to as an initial step. 

 

Refugee Resources:

 

 

Immigration Fraud

 

What is immigration fraud?

  • Individuals who claim that they are qualified to give legal information on the topic of immigration, falsely represent and misinform members of the immigrant community. These “notarios” claim that they are lawyers, attorneys, or legal assistants with a court license to represent clients before an immigration court, which is against the law.
  • They charge clients excessive amounts for services they don’t end up providing. If undocumented clients decide not to pay, the notarios threaten to report them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As a result, people in search of immigration assistance end up paying thousands to unqualified consultants and suffer from missed deadlines, incorrect forms, and false information among other consequences that can jeopardize their immigration status.

 

Causes of Immigration Fraud

Language Barriers

  • Unqualified notarios tend to use language barriers as an opportunity for profit. They specifically reach out to non-English speaking members of the immigrant community for personal gain. Immigration forms can be mistranslated and lead to further legal consequences for providing false information on legal forms.
    • United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides tools and services in many different languages for your convenience, specifically to help avoid fraud. You may find assistance here. (Note: All USCIS forms are only available in English)

Misinterpretation

  • The term “notario publico” translates to “public notary,” but the responsibilities of a public notary in the U.S. are not the same as one in Latin America. For example, a notario publico in Mexico is a highly trained legal professional. However, in the United States, a public notary is not licensed to practice law and offer legal services, which is why they should be avoided.

Fake Documentation

  • Notarios typically create stacks of fake documents to fool their clients into thinking they’ve helped others in the same situation. They also create fake certificates to show that they are certified and authorized to be giving legal immigration help. However, you can check to see if an individual or an organization is Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) certified here before being a victim of fraud. 

How can I avoid immigration fraud?

  • Before reaching out for immigration assistance, make sure to confirm that the lawyer is licensed with no history of expulsions and suspensions. If you are reaching out to an accredited representative or organization, make sure they are BIA certified by checking the roster of BIA-certified organizations and individuals, which can be found here. You may ask the organization to show you a copy of their BIA certification. Do not attempt to get service from someone who isn’t qualified.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice provides a list of legal service providers that have been disbarred or are under disciplinary action, which can be found here. Make sure that you are not reaching out to these lawyers and attorneys.

Tips for avoiding immigration fraud

  1. When receiving help from an immigration consultant, always ask for a copy of the documents and a notice of confirmation upon filing, in case of future conflicts. You have the right to ask for this.
  2. Do not pay for any USCIS forms, as they are free on their website. Do not trust anyone trying to charge you for forms that are free.
  3. Avoid immigration consultants that tell you they have connections with certain people in a government agency that can help expedite the processing of your forms.
  4. If your lawyer is coming from outside the United States, make sure he/she is licensed to practice law within the United States. Law licenses outside the United States do not give anyone permission to practice law within the U.S.
  5. Insist that you receive a written contract from your lawyer or accredited representative detailing all fees, services, and receipts associated with your case. You have the right to ask for this.
  6. Some attorneys are able to represent you as pro bono, which is free of charge depending on your financial situation. Ask your attorney if he/she is able to represent you as pro bono.
  7. You should always feel comfortable asking your legal representative questions. You’re paying for the service, therefore you have a right to know.

 

Where can I find a lawyer or accredited representative near me?

  • You may find legal immigration service providers by state through the U.S. Department of Justice website or the Immigration Advocates Network website.
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) provides a search engine to help find an immigration assistance provider at your convenience and in your language of choice. The search engine can be found, here.

 

What can I do if I, or someone I know, has been a victim of immigration fraud?

  • If you feel that you or someone you know has been a victim of immigration fraud, please call the Los Angeles County Department of Business Affairs at (800) 593-8222. You may also file a complaint through their website, here.
  • To prevent future cases of immigration fraud, make sure to file complaints if you feel you have been victimized by your legal provider.

 

*The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) is not a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) certified organization nor do we consist of legal service providers. We are only a resource that can guide you to trustworthy networks and organizations that can further assist you with any immigration concerns.