Preventing Deportation for Young Immigrants

“I’m no longer a child and cannot be dependent on my parents. My father, our main supporter of our family, is chronically ill with kidney failure, which requires a lot of expenses. I plan to go to college this upcoming year and need to have a way to provide for myself away from home. It would be impossible for me to start my own life and be of any benefit to society after I graduate from high school if I don’t have employment authorization since I won’t be able to engage myself, or even start a career.”

The above statement was written by a sixteen-year-old girl who applied for the status of “deferred action” with the help of Just Neighbors. Each applicant must write a statement about why they would like authorization to work in the United States.

The application process for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACAs) opened in August 2012. Immigrants aged 15–30+ who have no legal papers, have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, came here before the age of 16, and have kept a clean criminal record became eligible to apply for a work permit and to receive deferred action, which prevents their deportation.

After the application process opened, Just Neighbors scheduled hundreds of appointments for clients such as the sixteen-year-old girl quoted above. A study from the Immigration Policy Center estimated that more than 14,000 Virginians became immediately eligible for deferred action, and more Virginians become eligible each month as they turn 15.

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