Catholic Charities helps with ‘Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals’
by Mary Cottingham, South Texas Catholic
October 2, 2012
Juanita S. Cardiel, representative of the Immigration & Refugee Department helps Marco apply for Deferred Action.
Mary Cottingham, South Texas Catholic
Marco is one of about 100 young people trying to get Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals through Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi. On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children and meet certain guidelines may ask that their deportation be deferred for a period of two years, subject to renewal, making them eligible to get a work permit.
Lawyers with Catholic Charities are offering legal assistance to young immigrants applying for deferred action at the Healthy Living and Advocacy Center located at 1125 S. Port in Corpus Christi.
Marco, now 20-years-old, lives in Bishop. He is a junior at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and has not had it easy.
When he came to Corpus Christi he started attending middle school where he learned English. After middle school he went to Collegiate High School–an early college high school initiative between Corpus Christi Independent School District and Del Mar College designed to provide students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and a college associate’s degree.
Esperanza, who’s name in Spanish means “hope,” says she is not afraid, mostly because she has never been in trouble with the law, but also because the organization that is helping them is religious and the people that are helping them are lawyers.
Marco wants to become a mechanical engineer. He has a knack for fixing things, so he works on people’s homes, mows lawns and works in Mexican food restaurants so he can afford to go to college. Marco calls himself “determined.”
Although a bit nervous, Marco is not afraid.
“A chance is a chance,” he said. “I try not to lie. I tell the truth, but not the whole truth. Thanks to the transportation system I can travel from Bishop to Kingsville easily. Tuition is $30,000–it’s a lot. I live with friends and I let them know the risks if they hang out with me. I heard they could get their license pulled.”
“The most polite, articulate young people are registering. Some are students enrolled in high school, Del Mar College or Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi. They and their parents work hard, sometimes holding down two or three jobs,” attorney Carrie Chavez Thompson, Director of Immigration & Refugee Department at Catholic Charities, said.
“They are ambitious and excited about the possibility of becoming [legally] employed. They have so many obstacles, but they still keep going. They want to be here without having to worry about being deported,” Thompson said.
The program will allow qualified individuals to register with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and receive employment authorization and a temporary two-year reprieve from deportation. In addition to a work permit, deferred action would make these youth eligible for a driver’s license and a social security card.
“Since 2010, the Department of Defense has been wanting to make this happen,” Thompson said, referring to the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM Act). In 2010 a version of the DREAM Act passed in the House of Representatives, but failed in the Senate. It would have allowed eligible youth to serve in the U.S. armed forces.
Attorney Kim Seger helps Marivel with the deferred action application. Marivel is 23-years-old and wants to become a nurse.
Mary Cottingham, South Texas Catholic
There is no timeline yet on when applicants will receive their new status or no cut off date on applying. Thompson thinks they will be available for about two months. She warns applicants against going to notary publics or “unscrupulous attorneys.”
“For many the excitement outweighs the nerves. I tell them there are no guarantees, but I do believe the government wants to turn their focus on drug and human traffickers or violent criminals. In my opinion it would be just too inhumane to deport such a huge number of promising people,” Thompson said.
Catholic Charities is now scheduling appointments and consultations for individuals wishing to apply or learn more about deferred action. Contact Thompson at (361) 442-2224 or at email@example.com for assistance. Catholic Charities charges a nominal fee for their services.