Immigration reform advocates in New York City are working hard to help the population of young immigrants who live there stay in the United States legally. Fliers are being posted around the city in Korean, Spanish, Mandarin, Haitian-Creole and Hindi offering more information on how young immigrants can secure work permits and obtain temporary residency by applying for deferred action status.
The goal of the initiative is to get more young immigrants to apply for deferred action for childhood arrivals status because it protects them from deportation if they entered the country as a minor. Under this status, undocumented young people can also receive a Social Security card and a work permit, but they must renew their status every two years. Deferred action status is not a path to citizenship, but it allows the holder to work in the U.S. and obtain a driver’s license.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) was put into place nearly two years ago, and currently there are more than 500,000 people in the United States who qualify but have not applied. According to Brookings, more than 520,000 young people are currently getting ready to renew their status for another two years, and nearly 27,000 of them are from New York State.
Organizations like Own the Dream work to make sure as few immigrants fall out of DACA as possible by sending out text messages and email alerts to those who need to renew their status. Many of the applicants are college-bound teens who usually learn about the program at school, as well as university students or graduates, but DACA is actually is open to a much wider population. Many advocates in New York City suggest that less than half of the young immigrants who qualify have applied in the first place.