Work permits for undocumented youth expire soon

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SAN DIEGO — They got a 2-year pass to work and live in the United States legally but now time is running out.

“I was living in the shadows,” said Cristian Linares who was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status 2 years ago.

He’s one of thousands of undocumented immigrants granted D.A.C.A.; it’s essentially a work permit extended to young people brought into the U-S illegally by their parents as small children.

An executive order from President Obama back in 2012 made the permits available and now they’re about to expire.

“They need to renew as soon as possible,” said Daniel Alfaro with San Diego Alliance, an immigration activist group, trying to get the word out and remind permit holders it’s time to renew, but many in the activist community are worried, not enough of those who qualify are signing up.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 11.03.18 PMOut of an estimated 1 million who qualify (30,000 in San Diego), only half have gotten the permit; the same trend has been seen in San Diego County.

“We know from talking to dreamers that one of the major concerns in applying for D.A.C.A. is that they would out their family,” said immigration attorney, Andrea Guerrero.

In order to get the permit, applicants must submit addresses and other personal information, outing their undocumented status to the U-S government.

“That’s the scary part too,” said Linares who just submitted his renewal, which will give him another two years to work and finish school; but he’s already worried over what could happen once his new permit expires 2 years from now in the eyes of a new president and a new Congress.

“Those are my questions, what happens next,” he stressed.

Cost is another issue; applicants must pay at least $460 to apply.

“For a low income family with more than one child, that’s a lot of money,” said Guerrero.

Republicans in Congress have tried to pass a bill to kill the program saying it’s just a form of amnesty.

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