The value of being legal and legal services
IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel (The Philippine Star) - February 10, 2019 - 12:00am

Some people who are in the US with immigration problems/issues, such as being out of status, in deportation/removal, or they are outside the US hoping to immigrate one day, are reluctant to do anything about it because they don’t want to spend money and/or they think it may be “too expensive” to fix their problem. They are putting a monetary value on their immigration status.

But there are so many benefits to lawful immigration status, which these people need to consider. Therefore, they should consider other factors and realize the true value of being legal, which far outweigh the cost:

• Legal status brings peace of mind. If a person is out of status, they are anxious and nervous. Some lay awake at night, fearful of getting caught and deported/removed. How many people are afraid of being pulled over while driving, a knock on the door late at night, and afraid they may be reported and turned over to ICE?

• Legal status allows a person to safely travel to the Philippines to visit family. Many people who are out of status are alone in the US, while their family misses them in the Philippines. They may communicate with their spouse and children via Facetime, Facebook, Viber, etc., but nothing compares with hugging your child or aging parents, being there for important events like birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

• Legal status could possibly allow your family to join you in the US. If a person can legalize their status, it may also include their spouse and children, who may qualify for immigrant visas to join the person in the US.

• Legal status provides a better life and opportunities for your family, especially your children. Most people came to the US primarily to make a better life for their children. But if they are all out of status, what future is there for their children? While some may temporarily get by on DACA, or the parents hope the child will marry a US citizen, it could still be possible for the parent to do something about their own legal status which would also benefit their children.

• Legal status enables a person to work at a well-paying job equal to their education or experience. If a person is out of status, they may have to accept any kind of low-paying job just to survive and pay their bills. If they legalize their status, they could possibly work anywhere and/or at a well-paying job equal to their education or experience.

There are so many other benefits to being legal, that a person has to really put a value on those benefits. What is the value of having peace of mind? Isn’t it worth the expense, if it is possible to legalize your status? Think of all the other things that people spend money on, whether it is the latest Apple product, large-screen TV, vacations, etc. Was that money well-spent compared to the value of spending money to get legal?

I am not stating that everyone is qualified or eligible to clear up their immigration problems and/or legalize their status. But given the value of legal status, a person should at least explore their options and chances, rather than doing nothing because of the monetary cost. You should consult with an immigration attorney who can evaluate your situation and determine if there is hope and if you have chances, because legal status is priceless!

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