WASHINGTON, August 5, 2012 — Good news for the million undocumented young people who are eligible to stay in the U.S. legally thanks to President Obama’s “deferred action” program from deportation. Help is on the way. Democrats in Congress and big city mayors are setting up workshops to assist young people maneuver through the process.
As of Wednesday, August 15, the children of illegal immigrants, who meet the federal requirements, will be able to formally apply for deferment from deportation. However, anyone who has looked at the paper work and the $465 fee knows it is a daunting task and a lengthy one, taking up to six months to complete. It is a maze of red tape and legal language.
However, Democrats in both the House and Senate are initiating a national drive to enroll the young illegal immigrants in the deferment program by a series of outreach programs to help steer them through the process with a minimum of stress, from filling out the applications to avoiding hiring costly lawyers.
Most of the one million plus applicants don’t need a lawyer. As Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) explained, “If you see a lawyer, and they’re calling you, and they’re offering you something and they’re asking you to write a check, run away.”
In the Chicago area, Gutierrez along with Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chicago’s Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel will host for applicants. Seventeen cities so far are hosting similar events, including in Los Angeles and Detroit.
One of the biggest fears DREAM Act kids have is that if they apply but find they are not eligible, then the government will come after and deport them. Congressman Howard Berman (D-Calif.), who sponsored the original DREAM Act that failed to pass Congress because of Republicans voting no, said, “I think we an safely say no will be retaliated against because they submitted an application for which it turned out they didn’t meet the requirements.”
However, it appears that nearly 90% of the young people who do apply will be accepted for deferment from deportation. So it’s worth the time and effort. And after two years, they can then apply again for an extension.
One of the biggest requirements is that an undocumented youth does not have a criminal record. There is no sense even applying if you do. But a traffic ticket is not considered a crime.
The criteria to be eligible for the deferred action on deportation:
* arrived in this country before turning 16;
* have no felony record;
* have resided here continuously for at least five years;
* are currently in school;
* have graduated from high school or obtained an equivalency diploma;
* or are honorably discharged veterans.
* cannot have turned 30 at the time of their application
A USCIS hotline has been established to help young people with questions or for requests for more information at 1-800-375-5283 in both English and Spanish.
However, with workshops being set up around the country, the best bet is to sign up for one, getting the kind of personal help that will make it easier to navigate the process.
Meanwhile, Republican critics continue to lambaste President Obama’s directive, insisting it short-circuits the system and will cost time, money, and staffing to handle the 1.4 million people who are expected to apply.
Not so, says the Department of Homeland Security. In fact, the $465 application fee is to underwrite the additional staff and the costs of processing the applicants. The cost of the new program for the more than a million youth who are expected to apply will cost more than $585 million and require the hiring of 1,400 new employees by the federal government, according to the Associated Press. No taxpayer dollars will fund the program.
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