Today, Congressman José E. Serrano joined the chorus of pro-immigrant voices encouraging undocumented children and young adults to consider applying for deferred immigration action and study or work authorization, allowing them to stay in the country with permission.
"Today is a joyous day in our community as thousands of children and young adults who have been living in fear and suspense can finally begin to lead full lives without fear of deportation," said Congressman Serrano. "President Obama's plan will give them a chance to complete their studies and to work legally. They will be eligible for student aid and will no longer find that graduation means a dead end. Their dreams and aspirations can now start to become a reality. This is a huge benefit for them and for our country. Our immigration system will finally be taking a step forward, after many long years of destructive policies that have hurt the immigrant community and our nation as a whole."
On Wednesday, the US Customs and Immigration Service will begin accepting applications for deferred action from those people who are eligible. To be eligible for a two year deferral of any proceedings, the person must:
Be under the age of 31 (as of June 15, 2012);
Have entered the United States before age 16;
Have lived continuously in the country for the past five years;
Have not been convicted of a felony, a "significant" misdemeanor, or three other misdemeanors; and
Currently be in school, graduated from high school, earned a GED, or served in the military;
Pay processing fees.
"President Obama is helping families and individuals across the nation and showing true leadership in the face of obstruction," added Congressman Serrano. "This is not the full DREAM Act, but it is as close as we will come with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives. Our children can now move on with their lives and live without the risk of being deported. Our community has been asking for policy changes for years, and it is quite exciting to see it take effect today."
According to the U.S. Immigration Policy Center, in New York State at least 70,000 young people are eligible to take advantage of this new policy. That includes at least 55,000 people ages 15-30, and 15,000 ages 5-14. According to these estimates, New York has the 4th highest number of eligible children, following California, Texas and Florida.
"As with all immigration-related processes, it is of utmost importance that people seek counsel and advice from reputable sources, and to avoid potential scams," said Serrano. "I encourage the use of Board of Immigration Appeals accredited organizations and representatives. These are trustworthy sources for advice and counsel. "
A list of the organizations and representatives that are recognized and accredited within NY State can be found here: http://www.justice.gov/eoir/statspub/raroster_files/raroster_orgs_reps_state_city.htm#NEW+YORK
"Today is a great day for our nation as we see a generation of young people moving closer to becoming the full members of our society that they deserve to be," Serrano concluded. "On behalf of the federal government I urge those eligible to apply so they can begin to work or continue to go to school without fear of deportation. On behalf of our community, I say thank you to President Obama."