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Workshops to Explain Immigration Rules

The San Juan Macias Orientation Immigrant Center is planning a series of free workshops to help prospective residents and their families understand recent changes in the Immigration Naturalization Act, said officials of the Pacoima nonprofit organization.

The workshops will focus on Section 245(i) of the Immigration Naturalization Act, which allows individuals who have entered the country illegally to remain in the United States while their residency applications are being processed, said Felipe Kofman, outreach coordinator for San Juan Macias.

That provision was originally scheduled to expire at the end of September, but after an initial two-week extension, Congress voted Nov. 13 to extend the final deadline an additional 60 days, to Jan. 14.

Illegal immigrants who apply for green cards by Jan. 14 can pay a $1,000 fine and obtain their residency papers while remaining in the United States, rather than being forced to return to their home countries, under the bill.

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The provision was expected to take much of the sting out of last year’s sweeping congressional overhaul of the immigration laws by allowing people to circumvent a new rule that bars reentry to the United States for up to a decade by immigrants who have lived here illegally.

Kofman said the workshops will inform people about what they need to do to meet the deadline and help them avoid being victimized by unscrupulous agents.

“A lot of people are getting ripped off because they don’t understand what the law is all about,” he said. “Filing a piece of paper does not make you legal. This is not an amnesty program.”

Workshops will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the center, 13672 Van Nuys Blvd., in Pacoima, on three consecutive Mondays: Dec. 29, Jan. 5 and Jan. 12, Kofman said. For more information, call (818) 896-1156.

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