Just days before young, undocumented immigrants can begin to apply for work permits, state officials Monday announced $450,000 in grants to groups that can help them out.
President Obama’s move — announced with great fanfare in June — lets immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as kids or overstayed their visas apply for a temporary legal status called “deferred action.”
“It is critical that we get information out to our immigrant communities so that people will know who is eligible for deferred action and so that they can avoid being scammed,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said.
The grants will support clinics, workshops and legal services across the state, where an estimated 80,000 immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 could currently benefit, according to a Migration Policy Institute analysis.
Applicants must have lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, and be in high school, have graduated or received a GED.
They must have arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday. The new option — which must be renewed every two years — does not provide a path to citizenship but calls off deportation.
LaGuardia Community College student Katharine Tabares [member of Make the Road New York], who left Cali, Colombia, for Corona, Queens, two years ago, hasn’t been in the country long enough to qualify, but she still plans to spend all fall at state-funded workshops across the city with the group Make the Road New York, getting as many young people as possible to sign up.
“This policy . . . will give them the opportunity to work, which is amazing, ’cause, you know, when you work you’re going to have money to pay for college,” she said.
Make the Road’s initiative was one of three to get $150,000 to help young immigrants navigate the deferred action process.
The grants also went to Legal Services NYC and to a new state task force run by the New York Immigration Coalition and the New York State Immigrant Action Fund.
Hunter College political science student Yohan Garcia, 25, has been to two New York Immigration Coalition workshops about deferred action and is set to apply on Wednesday.
“I think it’s going to be a glorious day for all of us,” said Garcia, a Mexican immigrant who came to the U.S. at age 15 and now lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
He dreams of becoming a U.S. senator someday — but for now he’s just excited about being able to apply for more than unpaid internships.
“Now I’m finally going to be able to take those job opportunities and work in the field that I want to work,” he said.
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