By Mirela Iverac
A year after the federal government’s Deferred Action program took effect, 22,000 young immigrants illegally in New York have obtained work permits. But that’s only about one-fourth of the people who are eligible, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a think-tank based in Washington, D.C.
For some immigrants, the $465 application fee can be an obstacle. Deyanira Del Rio, co-director of the New Economy Project, an advocacy group, said her organization is working with community development credit unions to offer interest-free loans.
“What we’re able to do with the loan fund is actually to help eliminate that financial need as a barrier that’s preventing people from receiving the benefits of deferred action,” Del Rio said.
Del Rio says 5,000 loans could be made available. So far, 50 immigrants have received them or are in the process of being approved.
Other reasons why young immigrants haven’t applied for Deferred Action include inability to meet the education requirements of the program, fear of revealing their status to immigration authorities, or waiting for immigration reform under discussion in Congress.
To qualify for Deferred Action, applicants must have been younger than 31, when the program was announced last June; come to the U.S. before they turned 16; reside for more than five years in the U.S.; have a high school diploma, GED, or must be currently in school; and not have been convicted of a serious crime.