New Immigration Program Launches

Program allows young people brought to U.S. as children to avoid deportation

By Andres Gutierrez
|  Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012  |  Updated 8:16 PM CDT
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Starting Wednesday applications are being accepted for the new immigration policy of deferred action, more than a million young undocumented immigrants are eligible.

Andres Gutierrez, NBC 5 News

Starting Wednesday applications are being accepted for the new immigration policy of deferred action, more than a million young undocumented immigrants are eligible.

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Hundreds lined up outside the Mexican consulate in Dallas on Wednesday to get assistance with applications to avoid deportation and get work permits.

Hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children potentially could benefit from the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

President Barack Obama announced the program in June, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications Wednesday.

Dulce Munoz came to the United States when she was 2 years old and only knows North Texas as her home.

"I grew up in this country and, every sense of the word, I am a citizen," she said. "I do not remember my home country, so everything to me is the United States."

She recently graduated from DeSoto High School and is getting ready to submit her application.

"With this deferred action, I can take another step forward to continuing my education," Munoz said.

Volunteers from the North Texas DREAM team and LULAC helped Munoz through the process.

"A lot of people have been asking what documentation they need because the application is simple," said Christopher Enriquez, North Texas DREAM team spokesman. "Most of them [are] filling it out without a problem."

To be eligible, immigrants must prove they arrived in the United States before they turned 16, are 30 or younger, have been living here at least five years and are in school or graduated or served in the military. They also cannot have been convicted of certain crimes or otherwise pose a safety threat.

Under guidelines that the administration announced Tuesday, proof of identity and eligibility could include a passport or birth certificate, school transcripts, medical and financial records and military service records. The Department of Homeland Security said that in some instances, multiple sworn affidavits, signed by a third party under penalty of perjury, also could be used. Anyone found to have committed fraud will be referred to federal immigration agents, the department said.

The paperwork for the program can be downloaded from the Immigration Services website. Applicants must pay a $465 fee and provide proof of identity and eligibility.

A decision on each application could take several months, and immigrants have been warned not to leave the country while their application is pending. If they are allowed to stay in the United States and want to travel internationally, they will need to apply for permission to come back into the country, a request that would cost $360 more.

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