Jul 20, 2013

NYC implements program that teaches how to avoid deportation

HuffPost Voces
By Claudia Torrens
Original Americas Program Translation

New York (AP) - New York will spend municipal funds to enable young immigrants without permission to live in the U.S. to petition the government for suspension of deportation orders and obtain a work permit.

New York officials announced on Wednesday that it would spend $ 18 million in adult education programs and legal assistance to help "dreamers" secure local entitlement to deferred action that President Barack Obama signed last year. The "dreamers" are young people who were brought illegally to the United States, usually by their parents as children.

New York is the first city in the country implementing the initiative, officials said.

An estimated 79,000 undocumented youth in New York City can still qualify for the Obama plan but 16,000 of them must register in a school or adult education program, as stipulated in the federal requirements. Because adult education programs in the city are full and private education is expensive, the city will use the money announced Wednesday to create 10,370 new opportunities for students in adult education programs.

"I am very happy with this project. I study because I want to have a career," said Dulce Rojas, a Mexican woman of 30 who was brought by her parents to the United States illegally when he was eight. Rojas is already enrolled in school and is in the process of applying for deferred action.

"This will provide many opportunities for people like me," added Rojas, who spoke during a press conference at City Hall to announce the expansion of educational opportunities.

Obama's plan - known by the acronym DACA in English ("Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals") - offers young people the suspension of deportation for two years with possibility of renewal. They are also are given a social security number and temporary work permits.

Nationwide 557,412 immigrant youth have asked to join the Obama plan since it came into effect in August 2012. Approximately 537,662 applications have been approved, according to the latest data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In New York, however, the figure is not very high: out of 28,910 youth who have requested the application only 20,520 have been accepted. California is the state where more "dreamers" have used the Obama plan (152 855), followed by Texas (88,187) and Illinois (29,540).

"In New York few people have sent their applications," said Fatima Shama, commissioner of the Office of Immigrant Affairs in New York. "We can not let the opportunity offered by these federal mandates not be taken advantage of because we didn’t do we had to do."

DACA has acquired further importance because the immigration reform plan passed by the Senate two weeks ago provides a faster path to naturalization of young people eligible for the program. On the other hand, the president of the House of Representatives, Republican John Boehner of Ohio, spoke Wednesday in favor of allowing the naturalization of "dreamers". The judicial committee of the House will review the issue in July.

The city currently has 6,332 spaces for adult education programs, municipal officials said. Although the initiative announced on Wednesday helps "dreamers" to get a high school diploma, the state of New York has not yet approved state financial aid for "dreamers" studying at universities.

Original Spanish language article
Translated by Nidia Bautista 

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