It was a great privilege for me to have spent a couple of hours with the people of your community last week in order to share information on immigration issues. I wished to write a few lines in order to summarize some of what I presented.
The work I do as Director of the Immigration Service and Aid Center (ISAAC), a collaborative ministry between Baptist University of the Américas and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, is a nationwide effort to utilize local church-based ministries in order to help immigrants work through citizenship and immigration issues. You can check out our website at www.isaacproject.org.
The Federal Government allows religious non-profits to go through a recognition and accreditation process in order to provide legal services to immigrants and help those eligible to adjust status to live legally in our country. Accreditation enables church workers to provide immigrants with assistance in the preparation of immigration forms and, in some circumstances, to represent them in immigration court. The work that is done under the auspices of these federally recognized organizations is fully within the law. Most of the work I do through ISAAC involves helping churches obtain federal recognition and accreditation.
The fact that there is not a single agency of this kind currently in Central Texas is what prompted me to strongly encourage your community to open one and help immigrants who are already living among you, and who qualify, to adjust status and become legal permanent residents.
The mission of ISAAC is to help people comply with the law, not to break it. We are trying to minister to the needs of those who can adjust status and become legal residents. We are also trying to encourage people of faith to be proactive in helping immigrants within the laws of our nation.
People called notarios frequently scam many undocumented immigrants, especially those of Mexican origin, out of thousands of dollars. The notary public in Mexico is typically a powerful lawyer in a prestigious law firm who is strongly connected within the legal and political system.
Many people in our communities represent themselves falsely as notarios. They do paper work for immigrants and file immigration forms on their behalf without being licensed to practice law. As a result, many of these immigrants end up facing deportation proceedings even in cases where they were eligible to get a green card. Immigrants are happy to pay their fees because they honestly believe that the notario they are dealing with is a true American lawyer who will help them become legal residents. Little do they know that these individuals care only about stealing their hard-earned money. Some of these notarios are so bold that they even open offices in our towns.
I encouraged the Hispanic community in Mason to identify these notarios and turn them over to the district attorney. By doing this they can be saved from heartless people who would love to take financial advantage of their lack of legal status in our country. I asked those in attendance to defend themselves against scamming notarios, and not against any legal authority or law enforcement.
I appreciate the invitation I received to speak to your community. I was quite taken by your community’s warmth and receptivity to my remarks.
Dr. Jesús Romero, Director
Immigration Service and Aid Center (The ISAAC Project)
8019 S Pan Am Expressway
San Antonio, TX 78224