Deferred Action Program Explained in Austin

Posted at: 11/29/2012 6:34 PM
By: Katie Eldred

It's a shift in the Obama administration away from deporting all illegal immigrants to just those who are committing crimes.

Because of that, there's a new program designed to help a certain group of illegals, avoid prosecution. It’s called the deferred action program.

Lori Henry works with the more than 700 hundred students in the Austin School District that speak English as a second language, she says there are several that qualify for the deferred action program.
"They have a level of fear and anxiety in their lives that we don't have to worry about," said Henry.

A representative from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services held an information meeting Thursday to answer any questions about deferred action.

"To be able to relieve that fear of being deported by giving people access to legit employment," said Henry.

If qualified immigrants under the age of 31 meet the requirements for deferred action they are granted two years where they are eligible for legal employment.

The requirements include that they are currently in school or have graduated from high school, and that they are not a risk to public safety

Carlina Salazar works at the community learning center she says since the creation of deferred action more and more qualified young adults have gone back to school.

"There's wasn’t a job opportunity or anything so this will help students stay in school and want to do more," said Salazar.

Supporters of deferred action believe it has big benefits for the community.

"If they haven't committed any crimes and  they are staying in school those type of things, I think all of those are positive things for our school and our community," said Henry.

She says without the fear of deportment and having the option of a career, the program offers young immigrants a chance to dream big.

"I think anytime we can give a child or a young adult hope for their future, that's a very positive thing," said Henry.

The USCIS representative also warned of the scams that come along with deferred action. He said families need to be weary of scams involving people offering to help with the legal side of it but in fact they do not have law degrees.