KENNEWICK, Wash. --Starting August 15th, thousands of young people living in this country illegally will have a fair shot to stay, study and work in the United States through a Department of Homeland Security Program called "Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals Process."
One America, the largest immigration rights organization in the state of Washington estimates about 30,000 young people in the state would be eligIble to apply for the temporary immigration relief.the program.
Deferred Action Process which is expected to last two years, removes the threat of deportation for young people between 15 and 30 years old who have no criminal record and can prove they've been in the US at least five years.
To be eligible, immigrants must have arrived in the U.S. before age 16, and must be in school, have graduated, obtained a GED or served in the military.
Those who qualify and can show a need to work will also be granted a work permit and social security number. "It's not the DREAM Act, but its definitely a step in the right direction. And with this, even though our youth isn't going to be able to get an immigration status change, they're going to be able to not get deported which is the most important thing," says Jazmin Santacruz with One America.
Many community leaders and supporters of the program will hold town hall meetings across Washington state, including Seattle, Bellingham, Vancouver, Yakima and Kennewick.
Santacruz says the meetings will have information on who is eligible for deferred action, how the application process works, and how to sign up fro free legal assistance workshops.
She says it's very important to you know you are eligible before applying because those with a criminal record could face deportation. She says do not just consult your friends or "notarios," go seek a professional opinion from an immigration attorney.
NWIRP and AILA are offering free legal assistance workshops, and you could schedule one at the Town Hall meeting.
For more information on the workshops across Washington state call 1-855-31-DREAM.
The Kennewick Town Hall will be August 15 at St. Joseph's Church on 520 S. Garfield Street, at 6:00 PM.
The Yakima Town Hall will be at Holy Redeemer Church on 1707 S. 3rd Ave. It starts at 5:00 PM.