CPLC helps young people with cost of applying for Deferred Action
SOMERTON — A Phoenix-based nonprofit organization is putting up funds for youth in Yuma County and around the state to apply for temporary legal status through the Obama administration's Deferred Action program.
Under Deferred Action, certain young people who were brought to this country illegally as young people are exempted from deportation for a two-year period, granting them time to apply for legal permanent status.
But few of the young people who otherwise qualify for the program are coming forward to apply for the temporary stay, says Leslie Palomera, an immigration counselor for Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC), a Phoenix-based nonprofit organization that serves the state.
In Yuma County, fewer than 25 people are applying through CPLC offices in the area, Palomera said, and one reason could be that they fear being deported if they step out of the shadows — even though the Obama administration has pledged that their applications won't be used to track down and deport them.
Another reason for the slow trickle of applications could be young people don't have the money to pay the $465 fee to the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services to apply for Deferred Action.
“The cost of the application is one of the factors why many aren't applying,” she said. “They're young, they don't have the financial resources because they don't have a legal way to work here, and because many of them come from low-income families.”
Thanks to donations it has received, CPLC has established a fund to pay the applicant fees for those “Dreamers” who can't pay, Palomera said.
The nonprofit agency, she said, has the goal of raising $100,000 to pay the application fees for 255 young people around the state.
The Obama administration has granted Deferred Action to young people between the ages of 15 and 31 who were brought illegally to this country before their 16th birthdays, who are attending school or have graduated, have committed no felonies, and are deemed to pose no threat to national security.