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Border & Immigration

San Diego Group Expands Legal Services For Immigrants Here Illegally

Alliance San Diego holds a rally for immigrant rights, July 19, 2017.
Guillermo Sevilla
Alliance San Diego holds a rally for immigrant rights, July 19, 2017.
San Diego Group Expands Legal Services For Immigrants Here Illegally
Alliance San Diego, along with pro bono attorneys, are providing free legal advice to help people who do not have legal U.S. immigration status.

An immigrant rights group in San Diego is partnering with pro bono attorneys to provide free legal advice for people who do not have legal U.S. immigration status.

The move comes as the Trump administration considers dismantling an Obama-era program protecting immigrants who arrived illegally as children.

More than 40,000 people in San Diego are eligible for DACA, but only about half of them have already applied, according to Alliance San Diego. The group led a gathering of more than 30 people at the San Diego Unified School District on Wednesday. They rallied in favor of DACA — or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — and urged young people to attend free legal screenings to find out if they are eligible.

“We are under particular threat here in San Diego County because we have a saturated immigration enforcement and border security enforcement apparatus, we have more than three thousand agents here in San Diego County and all it takes is a stroke of a pen for them to start rounding people up," said Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego.

Celeste Figueroa is the U.S. citizen wife of a young man who was detained by Border Patrol earlier this month. Mario Figueroa was eligible for DACA but had not applied. Now he potentially faces deportation. The couple has a 10-month-old daughter.

“Since he’s been gone all she says is daddy, daddy. And well she doesn’t understand," Figueroa said.

Information on the legal screenings is available on readynowsandiego.org. According to Alliance San Diego, 20 percent of people who come for legal screenings are eligible for some kind of protection.