A coalition of civic groups launched Tuesday in Washington a national campaign to help thousands of undocumented students avoid deportation by means of a process known as “deferred action.”
The idea of the campaign, activists told a press conference, is to help potential beneficiaries apply for a suspension of their deportation and for temporary work permits, as indicated in guidelines announced by President Barack Obama on June 15.
The move is aimed at young people who would benefit under the DREAM Act, which remains stalled in Congress.
Since Obama’s announcement, “we have worked against the clock to build a solid and extensive infrastructure so the Dreamers and all our communities have precise information and trustworthy assistance to apply for deferred action,” Cristina Jimenez, managing director of the United We Dream Network, one of a score of groups that make up the coalition, said.
The campaign comes in support of efforts being made by Democrats in Congress and activist groups in neighborhoods around the country to help undocumented students complete their studies and get jobs.
Though no exact information exists about who and how many will be eligible for deferred action, the Immigration Policy Center estimates that 1.39 million undocumented students could benefit from it, while in a report released Tuesday the Migration Policy Institute puts the number as high as 1.76 million.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin to accept applications on Aug. 15 and, as pro-immigrant activists have done, it warns students not to be tricked by corrupt notaries and lawyers asking exorbitant sums for their services.
Different groups have announced projects to offer free legal advice to people seeking deferred action which, though it does not confer legal immigration status, will allow recipients to obtain a work permit, driver’s license and a valid official ID.
The process offers no possibility of appeal if a case is refused, and requires that each applicant register with the government, so that it is “important that each person obtain good legal advice from an accredited attorney,” Crystal Williams, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said.
The program is open to undocumented immigrants 30 years old and younger who were brought to the United States before the age of 16.
Applicants will need five years of continuous residence in the country, a high school diploma or GED, and proof of current or previous military service or college enrollment.
Those seeking deferred action will also have to submit fingerprints and other biometric data and undergo an extensive background check.
USCIS will also require an application fee of $465.
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