Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2012
Immigrant rights advocates barely had time to digest the Obama administration’s announcement last week that it would stop deporting some young immigrants when the questions started flowing in: Am I the right age? Does an arrest disqualify me? Do my parents qualify?
“We’ve been celebrating all weekend,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Tuesday. “We’ve now got to get ready. We’ve got to prepare the documents.”
The mayor joined activists and student organizers at a news conference called to highlight the need for young immigrants to begin documenting their history in the United States.
Doing so, he said, will help them prepare strong applications and avoid pitfalls as the policy is implemented.
It’s still unclear exactly how the program, which grants temporary relief from deportation to young immigrants who meet certain qualifications, will be administered. Department of Homeland Security officials have said they will announce details in 60 days.
According to the rules announced so far, relief will apply to those who are 30 years old or younger. Qualified applicants must have come to the United States before they turned 16 and stayed continuously for at least the last five years. They also must be enrolled in school, have a high school diploma or equivalent degree or be an honorably discharged veteran.
Those convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors are not eligible. In a list of frequently asked questions about the program, the Department of Homeland Security said significant misdemeanors include burglary, driving under the influence, possession of drugs and offenses involving violence.