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Government & Politics

Obama's Immigration Program To Start, New "Dreamers" Eligible To Apply

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Next week applications will start rolling in from the first wave of immigrants seeking temporary deportation relief under President Barack Obama’s executive order. Despite strong opposition from Republicans in Congress, Obama’s immigration plan aims to shield up to five million unauthorized immigrants from deportation out of the estimated 11 million living in the United States.  

As soon as Feb. 18, newly eligible immigrants will begin applying for relief under the extended version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

After Obama’s announcement in November, the program is now being expanded to include those who arrived before age 16, known as "Dreamers", regardless of how old they are now. Requirements include living continuously in the United States since January 2010, no serious crimes on record, and having or being in the process of obtaining a high school diploma or GED certificate.

The Migration Policy Institute, a national nonpartisan research center, estimates 12,000 undocumented immigrants could be eligible to apply for DACA in Fresno County.

Jessica Smith Bobadilla, with the San Joaquin College of Law, also owns an immigration firm. She says Central Valley residents have been seeking answers as to how to apply.

“There have been a lot of people looking for help. Many of the people qualify under the extended DACA provision,” Bobadilla says. “So there does seem to be a lot of activity around Deferred Action generally.”

Later this year, parents of a U.S. citizen or legal resident will also be able to apply for relief. They will apply under DAPA, Deferred Action for Parental Accountability. They must have also resided in the states since January 2010 and have no serious crimes on record.

The Migration Policy Institute estimates there are roughly 27,000 undocumented immigrants in Fresno County who could qualify for DAPA.  Applications for those seeking temporary relief under DAPA are expected to become available in May.