Going home for the holidays--if you are an immigrant who has applied or expects to apply for amnesty--could jeopardize your eligibility for legalization, the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights warned Tuesday.
"Many immigrants, especially those who have recently applied for amnesty--and many more that have yet to apply--may be under the impression that they have met all requirements set forth by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and can return home for the holidays without jeopardizing their (legalization) status," said spokesman Rico Cabrera. "Unfortunately, that is incorrect."
For example, explained Dan Virches, vice chairman of the Los Angeles-based coalition, an immigrant may have been given a receipt while his documents are being checked.
"But if that person breaks 'continuous residency' without a temporary residence card and clearance from the INS or hasn't checked with an amnesty assistance agency to make sure he has the appropriate document in hand, he may be stopped at the border and prevented from re-entering--even if he just went home for the weekend," he said.
The law allows for brief absences from the United States only under certain conditions.
The coalition said information in Spanish on current travel policies is available by telephoning a hot-line number: (213) 252-3907 in Los Angeles County; (714) 547-0306, Orange County, and (805) 486-4587, Ventura County.