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San Diego Communities Respond To Obama's Immigration Plan

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San Diego’s Faith, Educational, And Legal Community Responds To Obama Immigration Plan

More than two dozen people gathered Friday on the steps of St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Diego to talk about the effect President Barack Obama's immigration action orders will have on San Diego families.

It was the first event held in the city by leaders in the faith, educational and legal communities after Obama announced Thursday night a series of executive actions on immigration.

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Some in the crowd were energized by the president's announcement. Others were less optimistic.

One of those was Escondido resident Alejandra Ramos Almarez. "A lot of my family members are still left out. There are some family members who will be able to benefit, but this is definitely not enough," Almarez said.

Richard Barrera, a trustee with the San Diego Unified School District, was more upbeat. "It’s a day of relief, temporary relief, but it's a day that signals what is possible if our elected officials in Washington do their jobs," he said.

About 180,000 immigrants live illegally in San Diego County, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Immigrant-rights attorney Tammy Sumontha said the next step for many immigrants will be to get paper work together to prove they have lived in the U.S. for more than five years and don't have a criminal record. Sumontha said this can be in the form of bank statements, rental statements or rent receipts. It could also be utility bills or school records if they're students.

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Because there is no application to qualify yet, and the White House doesn't anticipate having one until the spring of next year, immigrant advocates worry about those here illegally becoming victims of fraud.

The concern has faith, community and legal service providers stepping up to provide resources and information.

Starting Dec. 5, the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium and its partners will hold more events throughout the county to educate people on how to avoid fraudulent scams and qualify for temporary relief.

"We are moving forward to ensure that every single San Diegan that may qualify for the president's announcement gets the legal support that they need," said Christian Ramirez, human rights director with Alliance San Diego.