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From the Archives: Dreamers lined up for DACA 10 years ago

Ten years ago this week, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program began taking applications. DACA allowed certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to apply for work permits and temporary protection from deportation.

A panel of federal judges in New Orleans is expected to rule on the fate of the DACA program in the coming weeks.

From The San Diego Union-Tribune, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012:

CROWDS START APPLYING TO REMAIN IN THE U.S.

Undocumented immigrants seeking deportation waiver

Thousands of young undocumented immigrants on Wednesday began the process of requesting a two-year waiver from deportation. Critics continued to denounce what they saw as the Obama administration’s end-run around Congress amid the presidential election season.

The new policy — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — is aimed at the estimated 1.4 million to 1.7 million undocumented immigrants who arrived in America as children. It is available to those who are 30 or younger and have met various requirements.

Supporters of the policy said it gives the most innocent in the immigration debate a chance to live in the U.S. without threat of deportation, and to contribute to society through education, work and military service.

Opponents said they prefer that any changes in immigration policy go through Congress, where conservatives have pushed for increased border security, more deportations and greater workplace enforcement before taking up any discussion of what to do with the nation’s roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants.

On Wednesday, crowds of potential applicants converged at community centers and other public places across the country — including thousands at various locations in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. — to obtain forms and information.

Deferred action provides an exemption from deportation for two years, with possible renewal, and enables recipients to legally seek a work permit.

The program has been compared to the DREAM Act, which Congress has rejected, because it will benefit the same group. But while the DREAM Act would have provided a pathway to permanent-resident status and eventually U.S. citizenship, deferred action does not.

Despite that key difference, immigrant advocates said Wednesday’s milestone could mark the beginning of a long-term solution for such immigrants.

“It is a step toward allowing DREAMers to come out of the closet and pursue their educational and career dreams,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, organizing director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. “DACA allows the U.S. to capitalize on the investment we’ve already made in these eager, young people’s K-12 education. A better-educated population increases our country’s competitiveness in the global economy, too.”

In addition to their other criticisms of Obama, those against deferred action said the program is ill-timed amid the nation’s economic woes and a clear play to the Latino electorate.

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