Lawyers help immigrants become legal

    The paperwork involved in filing taxes reminds many Americans on an annual basis how confusing it can be to complete official documents for the federal government. This weekend lawyers are heading to three sites across Pennsylvania to help immigrants with a different kind of paperwork.

    The paperwork involved in filing taxes reminds many Americans on an annual basis how confusing it can be to complete official documents for the federal government. This weekend lawyers are heading to three sites across Pennsylvania to help immigrants with a different kind of paperwork: their application to become citizens, a process called naturalization.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090417lflegal.mp3]

    The volunteer attorneys will give free legal advice to lower income immigrants eligible for naturalization.

    Temple Law School immigration law professor Peter Spiro says many people who are eligible would not apply without the kind of help the lawyers are providing this weekend.

    Spiro: The hassle factor of dealing with the Immigration bureaucracy is high. There can be misunderstanding, urban legends about well if you fail the test that’s going to result in deportation. So there’s concern that one could end up worse off by applying for naturalization than maintaining the current status.

    Spiro says the volunteer lawyers are also likely to field questions about the filing fee, which was increased in 2007 from $400 to $675.

    Organizers expect at least 50 immigrants at events in Philadelphia, Allentown and Carlisle.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.