RENO - Several immigrants from Mexico who fear they may be deported have won at least a temporary reprieve from a U.S. immigration judge in their bid to remain in Nevada.
The foreign nationals say they have been falsely accused of committing fraud on their immigration forms.
Judge Harry Gastley ruled Wednesday they can remain in Nevada until he holds a hearing on their case Sept. 14 and Oct. 25.
''There is hope,'' said F. Woodside Wright, their lawyer from Nevada Hispanic Services. ''They have a reasonable chance.''
The local residents Concepcion de Alvarado, Maria Lourdes Acosta; brothers Juan Carlos, Jose and Rodolfo Montelongo; and brothers Juan and Arturo Rangel will have to be found guilty of changing or knowingly contributing to the change of a date on an INS form before being deported to their home country of Mexico, he said.
Wright told the Reno Gazette-Journal his clients are victims of what the Nevada State Bar calls a ''scrivener'' industry.
He said they went to an unlicensed paralegal service, where a woman filling out their forms changed a date on a form that effectively allowed them to get in line in front of hundreds of immigrants waiting to obtain legal status in the United States. When the INS discovered the change, it put the group in deportation proceedings.
On June 26, the Hispanics filed complaints with the Reno Police Department against Pastora McCann, a Reno businesswoman and former scrivener, whom they accuse of changing the dates without their knowledge. McCann said she is innocent and has not been charged.
Alvarado said she hasn't slept well the last few days, thinking she might have to leave daughter Jessica, 6, behind in the United States. She said although they're not out of trouble yet, she felt a great sense of relief.