On Wednesday, the two-month wait for undocumented DREAMers looking for legal working status in the United States will officially end.
The estimated 1.4 million DREAMers, children of immigrants who came to this country with their families but do not have legal status, are now able to apply for deferred action—the right to live and work in the United States legally for two years.
Major criteria for qualification include: DREAMers who are currently aged between 15 and 30 years; they were under 16 years old when they arrived in the United States; they arrived before June 15, 2007.
The two-month waiting period came after President Barack Obama announced on June 15 a new Department of Homeland Security policy that would stop the prosecution and deportation of DREAMers who do not have a criminal record and who have made education or military service a priority.
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced Monday the allocation of funding to organizations that will be helping eligible immigrants through the process.
“Earlier this year, the Assembly majority succeeded in adding $450,000 in the final enacted state budget to fund pilot programs intended to help young immigrant New Yorkers and their families overcome the barriers to education, employment, and economic empowerment,” Silver said from his office Monday.
Katherine Tavares, 17, who emigrated with her parents from Colombia two years ago, is not eligible as she was not in the United States before June 15, 2007. This will not, however, stop her from supporting her friends who are eligible.
“I feel really happy for them and that is why I want to keep on working on this even though it does not apply for me; because it’s not just about yourself, but about your community,” said Tavares.
Tavares was speaking on behalf of Make the Road New York, which received a $150,000 grant, and will hire one youth immigration attorney and one paralegal to assist with deferred action applicants.
“Every year there are more than 65,000 undocumented students that graduate from high school with an uncertain future. We are in the country because we want to succeed in life,” Tavares said. “We want to give a better future for our families and to ourselves. We are going to be the next engineers, the next doctors, the next activists of this country. Therefore, we need the opportunity.”
In partnership, the New York State Immigrant Action Fund and the New York Immigration Coalition received $150,000 and will create the New York State DREAM Legal Services Network to offer legal and education services for immigrants.
May Chin of the New York State Immigrant Action Fund said, “We are focusing our efforts with this grant on broad education and outreach to make sure we can try to reach what we think will be close to 100,000 eligible DREAMers who would really be helped by this legislation.”
A $150,000 grant was also awarded to Legal Services NYC and it will use the funds to create Community College CONNECT. The new initiative will specifically focus on legal issues involving immigrant students. Executive Director Raun Rasmussen said, “We know that immigrant students, having learned from their parents about the importance about hard work and determination, are fighting harder than anyone to succeed in this country and our work is designed to help them do that.”
It is estimated that 90,000 DREAMers are eligible for the deferred action throughout New York state.
To vie original article, click here.