Thanks to the United Farm Workers Foundation, area residents looking for affordable immigration services and community education have a place to turn to.
The foundation opened the doors to its new offices at 2409 Merced Street (site of the former Mexican Consulate offices) last Thursday.
The office is the sixth the foundation has opened.
"We found out that people were going to notarios públicos thinking they were attorneys," said foundation executive director Diane Tellefson Torres. "We agreed we had to do something."
The Fresno office will focus on people who need help on applying for deferred action, naturalization or other immigration services. An immigration attorney from Bakersfield will be available.
All immigration cases will be reviewed by by the foundation's immigration attorney.
The fee will be nominal, said Tellefson Torres.
"People need a safe haven to go to for sound advice," she said.
Foundation board member Tanis Ybarra called it "a dream come true" for the UFW to open an office in Fresno.
"We look forward to opening more offices because the need is there," said Ybarra, a longtime UFW official.
Mexican Cónsul General Reyna Torres Mendívil expressed hope that the office will fight immigration fraud.
"It is important to battle that kind of abuse," said Torres Mendivil. "These people are easily abused, and people make a profit from their vulnerability."
Tellefson Torres agrees.
"As individuals prepare to apply for some type of immigration benefit, the UFW Foundation reminds applicants to beware of notarios or other service providers who are not authorized to provide legal immigration advice," she said.
The foundation has established offices in Bakersfield, Greenfield, Los Ángeles, Salinas and Phoenix.
Tellefson Torres said the foundation will work on outreach to let the community know about the services being offered.
"We'll be happy to talk to organizations," she said.
Workshops on deferred action will be held every Tuesday and Thursday at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Citizenship workshops will be held every Wednesday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The foundation also hopes to provide citizenship preparation classes.
Details: (559) 496-0700.