A story published on www.fresnobee.com Wednesday and in Thursday's Bee incorrectly explained the scope of immigration services being offered by Centro La Familia. Centro's executive director wrongly described those services to The Bee. She corrected her remarks Thursday after federal officials alerted The Bee. Here is the revised story:
One day after Centro La Familia Advocacy Group in Fresno announced it had been federally accredited to handle immigration-related legal claims, the U.S. Executive Office for Immigration Review (EIOR) clarified that these new powers have limits.
EIOR spokeswoman Kathryn Mattingly said the group is only partially accredited — meaning it can act on behalf of clients who are brought before the Department of Homeland Security, but it can not legally represent them in any immigration court or in the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals. The agency does fully accredit non-attorneys to practice immigration law, but no one at Centro La Familia has received that distinction as of Monday.
Centro La Familia Executive Director Margarita Rocha told The Bee Wednesday that she and two other employees could act as attorneys in immigration and naturalization legal matters. On Thursday, she said that “it didn’t even cross (her) mind” to clarify the difference between the two accreditation types. Her agency actually contacts immigration attorneys when these legal matters arise, she added.
Mattingly also said her agency does not give a test prior to this accreditation, which Rocha had originally stated. Rocha said Thursday that the courses she took to earn an accreditation gave examinations — not the EIOR.
A full list of accreditation requirements and information on who can represent undocumented people in immigration cases can be found on the EIOR website.