DACA: Renew! Renew! Renew!

September 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

With just one week until the window closes for DACA recipients to renew expiring permits, immigrant rights groups, government and school officials and immigration attorneys are out in force with a united message: Renew, renew, renew!

Their message is directed at those whose permits will expire by March 5, 2018, but who now only have until Oct. 5 to get their renewal applications into U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Failure to meet the deadline — delivered not postmarked — will cause the recipient to lose his or her temporary protections from deportation, as well as the social security number and work permit that come with DACA status.

The deadline is included in Pres. Donald Trump’s memorandum of Sept. 5 ending the DACA initiative. The president has ordered a “phased out” end to the Obama-era program, saying it’s now up to Congress to come up with legislation to provide some sort of legal status for young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

The short notice has many recipients scrambling for legal and financial assistance. Several groups are offering free legal assistance and providing grants or micro-loans to help cash-strapped applicants pay the $495 renewal application fee.

During a Facebook Live event Monday hosted by the Los Angeles County Office of Immigrant Affairs, panelists said money should not be the deciding factor when it comes to deciding whether to reapply.

“If money is the reason you are avoiding submitting your application, money should not be a barrier,” said Julie Mitchell of CARECEN, a nonprofit Central American immigrant rights organization founded in 1983.

“There is a lot of assistance here in LA. County if you can’t come up with the $495,” said Mitchell, explaining that “some schools, contractors with the California Department of Social Services, even some council districts” are offering financial aid. As for going it alone in the application process, Mitchell questioned why someone would make that choice given the availability of free legal and expert advice.

“We have an abundance of resources, people who have stepped up,” she said. “If legal advise is available, why not take advantage?”

Alex Lomeli (pictured) was pleasantly surprised to learn there are grants available to help students like him pay the $496 fee to renew his DACA permit. Without the grant, he would have to work extra hours, which cuts into his school time. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez)

Alex Lomeli (pictured) was pleasantly surprised to learn there are grants available to help students like him pay the $496 fee to renew his DACA permit. Without the grant, he would have to work extra hours, which cuts into his school time. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez)

That’s especially true for anyone who may have a criminal arrest, Mitchell said. Even if there was no conviction, it could hurt you and you should get advise from an attorney.

For students like Alex Lomeli, a student at East Los Angeles College, the financial assistance and resources are a welcome and timely surprise.

“I had no idea grants are being offered,” Lomeli told EGP Monday, adding that in the past he’s had to take on extra work to pay his renewal fee. The extra work takes time from his graphic design studies.

Lomeli is not alone.

There are many students out there who don’t know what resources are available, said Jennifer Marin Esquivel, a volunteer coordinator at CARECEN.

She said her organization has been very busy ever since Trump issued the order to dismantle DACA, telling EGP they have hosted numerous events where applicants were able to ask immigration attorneys for advice and get grants to help pay the renewal application fee.

According to Esquivel, money has been allocated by most districts in Los Angeles County to assist permit holders. This coming Saturday, the Councilman Curren Price in collaboration with CARECEN and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles will host a workshop where hundreds of grants will be given to DACA recipients that meet the qualifications.

Esquivel said it’s discouraging to think, that during this time of great uncertainty, there are still permit holders who don’t know there are dozens of groups out there offering help.

While the lack of awareness has her concerned, Esquivel said she’s more alarmed by the countless stories of betrayal from families duped out of money by persons hired to shepherd them through the renewal process.

She said she’s met with families who told her they paid an attorney $1,000 or more to process their renewal applications, only to be left empty-handed.

“It’s a crime that many families deal with,” Esquivel said in disgust. “They trust an individual who ends up taking advantage of their generosity.”

For Maribel Arroyo, however, the future is even more uncertain, not tied to whether she gets her renewal application in by the Oct. 5 deadline.

Arroyo’s permit expires in December 2018 and as of now, there is no plan to allow the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients whose permits expire after March 5, 2018 to reapply.

They will lose their work permits and social security numbers and protections from deportation as soon as their current permit expires.

Arroyo, whose parents brought her from Durango, Mexico to the U.S., works full-time to pay for the University of Phoenix online courses she’s taking. She’s worried losing her status also means losing her job and her chance at a college degree in education and her dream of being an elementary school teacher.

If I can’t work legally, I don’t know how I will be able to afford paying for school, she said.

In the meantime, Arroyo plans to talk with an immigration attorney to explore her options.

“I called the U.S. Immigration Department and they have no answers for me,” says Arroyo in frustration.

“I’m trying to provide a better future for my son and I, but I [could be] getting kicked out of a country I’ve called home since I was ten.

The situation Arroyo and hundreds of thousand of other DACA recipients like her are facing is “unfortunate,” acknowledges Esquivel. “That’s the next fight we have to take on,” she said, referring to efforts to get Congress to pass legislation to fix the status of Dreamers, the name often used to refer to immigrants brought to the country as children.

For many, however, this week the focus across the country is on pushing DACA recipients eligible for a permit renewal to get their applications in before time runs out. Make sure it’s in the mail no later than Oct. 1, advises Ready California, which also offers information on free legal resources and offers grants to cover the cost of the renewal application fee. You can find more information at www.READY-CALIFORNIA.org.

The county’s immigration affairs department has planned another Facebook Live event for Oct. 2, 6pm at www.Facebook.com/LAC4Immigrants. For more information about the “Keep Your DACA” live chats or any of the latest news affecting immigrants, visit the Office of Immigrant Affairs website at oia.lacounty.gov or call (800) 593-8222.

EGP Managing Editor Gloria Alvarez contributed to this story

Facebook Bloquea Paginas Con “Noticias Falsas”

August 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

NUEVA YORK – La firma tecnológica Facebook anunció el martes una actualización que bloqueará los anuncios de aquellas páginas alojadas en su red social, frecuentemente utilizadas por empresas, que se dediquen a compartir “noticias falsas” (“fake news”) para desincentivar su financiación y frenar la desinformación de los usuarios.

Facebook ya tomó medidas contra los anunciantes que enlazan a historias catalogadas como falsas por organizaciones de análisis externas, y ahora está “dando un paso adicional” en este ámbito, explicaron los jefes de producto Satwik Shukla y Tessa Lyons en el apartado para periodistas de la red social.

“Hemos encontrado ejemplos de Páginas que utilizan “Facebook ads” (anuncios de Facebook) para construir audiencias y distribuir noticias falsas más ampliamente”, señalaron los responsables.

Ahora, si una de esas páginas comparte “repetidamente” historias que han sido catalogadas como falsas, Facebook le prohibirá comprar anuncios, aunque el bloqueo se puede revertir si dejan de distribuir ese tipo de informaciones.

“Las noticias falsas son dañinas para nuestra comunidad. Hacen que el mundo esté menos informado y erosiona la confianza”, apuntaron los ejecutivos de Facebook, que se ha propuesto “desestabilizar” el incentivo económico a la creación de estas piezas.

Desde las últimas elecciones presidenciales en Estados Unidos, la firma fundada por Mark Zuckerberg, que tiene 2.000 millones de usuarios, ha impulsado varias iniciativas para combatir las llamadas “fake news”, como la vigilancia de cuentas sospechosas.

Facebook to Curate News: Good Effort or Flawed Proposition?

December 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

MENLO PARK, Calif. – Silicon Valley giant Facebook has outlined plans to use third-party fact checkers to vet some of its news content.

Facebook has come under pressure from users on both the left and right, decrying its use of data collection and charging that it’s attempting to control debate on hot-button issues.

The fact-checking plan appears to be an acknowledgement of sorts that new media may need a filter.

Gabriel Kahn, a journalism professor at the University of Southern California, says news today is different than in the past when there were fewer sources of information.

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“Because there were so few sources, those sources took it upon themselves, for a number of reasons, to act more responsibly and produce, essentially, fact-based journalism,” he states. “Not that that system was perfect, but the expectation of the news consumers was that the news organizations were actually giving them real, fact-based journalism.”

But critics of this position say injecting people into the process to curate news for the public is a poor replacement for equipping the population with a firm understanding of civics, so people can grasp the facts for themselves.

Critics also warn that restricting content could curb free speech and limit access to a variety of points of view.

Facebook says it will test the new system first with a small number of users.

Kahn says the natural expectation is that these human fact checkers will make mistakes, that the system will be human.

“Now, the ecosystem has completely changed, yet the notion of responsibility hasn’t filtered down to the public,” he points out. “Essentially, what’s going on is that we’ve devolved the responsibility for fact-based news from the news organization to the consumer.”

Kahn is reluctant to admit that who decides what’s “fake” or “real” has a political dimension.

Facebook says it’ll be targeting “clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain.”

 

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