Confusion, fears of scams over Obama's immigration order

LOS ANGELES - The usually busy Mexican consulate in Los Angeles has been even busier since President Obama announced executive action on immigration. The president's actions will allow millions of people who are in this country illegally to avoid deportation - if they meet certain conditions.

It's been less than a week since the president's announcement and already there is confusion over paperwork.

Immigration reform

"There is also a lot of speculation," said Carlos Sada, Consul General of Mexico in Los Angeles.

Mr. Sada has been in the waiting room himself telling people they'll need birth certificates, tax records, and even utility bills to prove they have lived here at least five years. He described the process as "complicated."

On Thursday immigrant advocates in Los Angeles held a Thanksgiving march in support of the president's plan. But there are fears applicants could fall victim to scams charging thousands of dollars for processing paperwork.

Immigrant advocates in Los Angeles march in support of the president's immigration plan. CBS News

Immigration attorney Carlos Gallardo is already helping undocumented immigrants prepare by suggesting ways to avoid being fooled.

"In California, practicing attorneys are issued a bar card every year," said Gallardo, who advises immigrants to ask for the card before proceeding with any paperwork.

Isabel Medina-Ortiz and her husband Felipe will be among those applying. They have been here, undocumented, since 1996. She was asked if she had been saving all the tax documents and other proof that she'll need for her claim.

Isabel Medina-Ortiz CBS News

"Can you believe it, yes!" said Isabel with a smile.

Their sons, 6 and 8, are their tickets to eligibility under the president's order. Both boys are American citizens who were born here.

Isabel and Felipe say their 18-year journey as undocumented immigrants included countless odd jobs: cleaning houses, making donuts, packaging rice beans, working as a medical assistant, and as a cashier.

Some undocumented immigrants may decide not to apply because the president's action is temporary. It promises only to provide a work permit and defer deportation for three years. What happens after that is uncertain.

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    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.