More than 150,000 young immigrants escape deportation

Young immigrants apply for deferred action in Los Angeles (Getty Images)

Young immigrants apply for deferred action in Los Angeles (Getty Images)

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS –  Alex Lee suffers from a rare brain cancer while Putri Rahayuningshih can’t imagine living on her own in a strange country she only saw as a child.

Both were in danger of getting deported, but thanks to an executive order signed by President Obama in June 2012, Lee and Putri can remain in the country.

And thanks to a signature campaign initiated by the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, both will stay with their families — at least for the moment — while their cases are getting reviewed.

The Lee family, who came to the United States to scape persecution in Brazil more than 15 years ago, while Rahayuningsih family came from Indonesia.

Alex and Putri, who both came as children, qualify for what is called deferred action, which grants a temporary hold on deportation and allow for a two-year legal stay, in which status adjustment is possible.

The Obama administration has granted deferred action to 154,404 young undocumented immigrants, including more than 50,000 in the past month, according to data released on Friday by the Department of Homeland Security.

In June, Obama announced that his administration would stop deporting some undocumented young people and instead grant them temporary work authorization and two years reprieve from deportation, a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The Huffington Post reported that the DHS began accepting applications Aug. 15 from among the estimated 1.4 million people who could be eligible for the program.

As of Thursday, 407,899 undocumented young people had applied for deferred action, and 13,366 had been rejected.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is considered a Band and attempts to mimic the Dream Act, a bill that most recently failed in the Senate in 2010.

To qualify, the applicant must have entered the United States before the age of 16, are now under the age of 30 and have lived in the country for at least five years.

They must either be in school, have graduated from high school or have a GED, or have been honorably discharged by the military.

Reasons for rejection from the program include felony or significant misdemeanor convictions and being deemed a threat to public safety or national security.

Anyone granted deferred action can still be deported, as DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano emphasized last June.

“This grant of deferred action is not immunity,” Napolitano said. “It is not amnesty. It is an exercise of discretion so that these young people are not in the removal system. It will help us to continue to streamline immigration enforcement and ensure that resources are not spent pursuing the removal of low-priority cases involving productive young people.”

 

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