By SAL GUTIERREZ, Ranger Reporter:
Possible deportation, obtaining a green card, student visas, leaving and reentering the country and other immigration-related concerns are causing anxiety for some Amarillo College students.
Students, staff and community members crowded into the Oak Room on March 22 for a free workshop to address these worries. The AC legal studies program, the Legal Society of Amarillo College, the AC legal clinic and Legal Aid of Northwest Texas sponsored the program, which was led by local attorneys Shilpa Shah and Felipe Zavala. Their goal was to address worries and confusion about recent changes in immigration policies. Immigration processes and guidelines to obtain a green card or validated US citizen status captured attention as the attorneys provided information to calm fears.
Students do not have an adequate understanding of immigration law and do not know what is going to happen with the new administration, according to Brett Howard, legal studies major and legal clinic staff member.
“What we are trying to do is to find attorneys who are good at what they do, who know what they are talking about to go and give advice to students,” Howard said.
Attorneys discussed students’ rights and responsibilities in various situations, such as when to provide information on legal status, different types of visas and the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Josephine Rodriguez, legal studies major and president of the legal society, helped organize the workshop because for her, the issue is personal. Rodriguez’s older sister came to the United States with her parents when she was a baby. “She is here under deferred action. She has honors for everything and she is a member of PTK. How do I help my sister stay here?” Rodriguez said.
According to the Immigration Policy Institute, there are 1,932,00 subjects potentially eligible for DACA as of 2017 and the numbers may increase in the future, but, since Donald Trump took office, the future of DACA is unclear. Since the administration changed, many AC students have sought advice from the new legal clinic.
“With all these executive orders being signed about immigration, we felt that we had to do something to bring awareness and let everyone know what they can do, and that they have a safe place to expose their situation in the legal clinic,” Rodriguez said.
The AC legal clinic is located in the Legal Studies Department, on the third floor of the Byrd Business Building at AC’s Washington Street Campus.
It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Fridays by appointment only. Students can call to make an appointment or schedule via Facebook where it is listed as the Amarillo College Legal Clinic.