Ahead of the Obama administration's plans to allow young, undocumented immigrants to apply for temporary relief from deportation on August 15th, a Washington, D.C. coalition of immigrant’s rights groups is working to make sure that undocumented residents are ready. Our Jeanine Ramirez has the story.
UNITED STATES -- In June, when President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program, an initiative that will grant temporary protection from deportation to many illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. before age 16, legions of immigrants and their advocates lauded the move. Now, with the program going into effect in less than two weeks, the "United We Dream Network" wants to make sure that those who participate in the program are prepared and protected.
“All of our team and our partners have really been working around the clock to ensure that DREAMers to really build a solid and national infrastructure that will ensure that DREAMers all across the country and our entire community has accurate information and high quality assistance to apply for deferred action.”
United We Dream, a coalition of immigrant youth groups, will launch a website, national hotline and provide other tools to help applicants navigate the process when the program launches on August 15. The group has also teamed up with several legal organizations, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association, to provide free or reduced cost legal services to participants. Advocates say they want to help people take advantage of the program without putting themselves in any further legal jeopardy.
“These are people dreaming of their future and they need to make sure that they are protected as much as they can within the overall framework of the immigration laws,” said Crystal Williams, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Many see the new program as a stop-gap measure by the President to achieve some of the goals of the DREAM Act, legislation currently stalled in Congress, that would create a path to permanent citizenship for so-called DREAMers. Immigration advocates, including Lucy Allain of Queens who immigrated to the U.S. with her family from Peru, say it’s a step in the right direction.
Allain said, “I think it’s a really big victory. It’s not the DREAM Act yet, but it is a step to the DREAM Act and that's what, it’s a step that's going to lead us to keep on fighting.”