Courier Staff Writer
An upcoming workshop will give the community a chance to understand the details of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and how it applies to them.
Ottumwa High School will hold a public workshop on Friday.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization” under the program approved this summer.
CIS also noted that “deferred action does not provide an individual with lawful status.”
The DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) was shot down by the U.S. Congress this summer, which prompted President Barack Obama to issue the executive order.
“The law that was passed allows immigrants who have been in the school system for five years or have graduated from high school [to apply],” said Carol Ryon, Justice For Our Neighbors coordinator in Ottumwa. “In the past ... they could not get their green card to be able to work.”
Gary Walters, immigration attorney for JFON, will speak at the event.
“He’s coming down to give people information about what this new law, that was signed this summer, how it will affect people or who’s eligible to apply for it,” Ryon said. “What the requirements are, the process of what they need to do to be able to take advantage of this.
“If you have a 16-year-old student who has been in the U.S. almost all their life, going through the school system for at least five years, at this point they can go out and work to help their families. With this act, if they apply to get their green card, they can then work.”
One of the confusions Ryon said they want to clear up is that the newest law is not the DREAM Act originally proposed in 2001.
“This is a step toward being able to get all their documentation in place,” she said. “But there are a couple scary things about this law. It could be repealed at any time. If the president decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore, the law’s gone.”
The next step will be to hold a clinic on Oct. 20 with Walters present, where he will meet one-on-one with those wanting to apply.
“Then they will have the correct documentation to be able to work and get paid,” Ryon said. “They’ll also turn around and pay taxes, and it’s also a step toward possibly eventually citizenship.
“These kids, if their parents are here undocumented, they are always in fear they’re going to be deported. If we can, we’ll give them a safety net. They want to be here as citizens if they possibly can. I think it would help our community.”
Individuals may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if they:
• Were under the age of 31 as of June 15;
• Came to the U.S. before reaching their 16th birthday;
• Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
• Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
• Entered without inspection before June 15, or their lawful immigration status expired as of June 15;
• Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a GED certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces;
• Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
6-7 p.m. Friday
Ottumwa High School auditorium
Speaker: Gary Walters, immigration attorney at Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON)