For Some New Yorkers, News of Immigration Reform is New

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jodi Ziesemer, an accredited representative at Catholic Charities, a non-profit which provides legal services, was calling clients for whom she usually doesn’t have good news on Wednesday.

It’s a group of over a hundred people who are not eligible for any relief and have been waiting for immigration reform. They include Hendra Budiharto, 47.

Budiharto came to the U.S. in 1999 from Indonesia and overstayed his visa. He has a deportation order. On the phone, Ziesemer tells him he would be eligible for temporary legal status if this law is passed. Ten years later he could qualify a green card.

“All right!” he exclaimed. “I’m so happy!”

It was the first time he heard of the immigration bill that was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday. The Gang of Eight, four Republican and four Democratic Senators, worked on it for months. Under the bill, 11 million immigrants in the country illegally could qualify for citizenship.

By the time Ziesemer finished talking to Budiharto, he was ecstatic.

About an hour later another client, Jean Francois, strolled into her office. Francois also said he hasn’t heard anything about the proposed immigration bill.

“I wasn’t concentrated on it, you know?” he explained.

Francois, 55, is from Haiti. He’s been granted temporary protected status in 2010 after the earthquake, which means he can work in the U.S. legally. Francois said he’s been looking for work and that it kept him away from following news.

For him, a change in immigration laws would mean he gets a chance to stay permanently in the United States. Ziesemer told him to prepare now so he’s ready if reform happens.

“Save your money, save evidence that you are living in the United States,” she said. “And file your taxes.”

Those applying for temporary legal status and residency under the Gang of Eight’s proposal will have to pay back taxes, application fees and a $2000 penalty fee over a 10-year period. Francois missed the opportunity to apply for amnesty under President Ronald Reagan by arriving two weeks after the cut-off date. He shrugged his shoulders, describing the situation as “unlucky.”

“That’s why you have to pay attention to this new reform now,” Ziesemer told him. “You’ve probably been waiting for longer than almost anyone else in the United States.”

To hear this story, click the audio link above.


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Comments [5]

art from san bernandino

People wake up stop your negative minds and mind your own business racism discrimination is out of our political system thank u

Apr. 18 2013 12:39 PM

These people are waiting to become citizens and an attorney has to call to tell them that this is news?? Exactly how motivated are they? If they can't follow meaningful immigration developments that pertain to their situations, how much can we expect them to contribute to society? But then everyone has a right to take up space and be provided for in this great nation of ours, don't they?

Apr. 18 2013 08:50 AM
Nickita from NY

As far as I am concern, Immigration Reform is just a proposal for now, not a done deal. No reason to get exited about it just yet.

Apr. 18 2013 08:04 AM
rose mwangio from washington

Kudos to all those who has worked hard for the over haul of the immigration.I am an immigrant .I applied political asylum and was denied .my case is in the court .what will happen to me and others in the new immigration bill?

Apr. 17 2013 09:54 PM
joe murphy from ny

I came here 2 months after the cut off date 12-31-2013 is there any hope of me being included in this bill

Apr. 17 2013 08:29 PM

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