New deferred action immigration program takes effect - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

New deferred action immigration program takes effect

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Wednesday marks a new relief process for young and undocumented people living in America. It was an executive order signed by President Obama in June which allows for undocumented people to apply for deferred action. In other words, they would be granted a two year work permit which would guarantee them permission to stay, legally.

It stems from Obama's originally drafted DREAM Act which has had little traction in Congress and is still pending.

This is an opportunity that an estimated 800,000 to 1.7 million people can benefit from.

Though immigrant numbers are less in Sioux Falls, it's still an opportunity that can make a big difference.

"What they would be given if they are approved is a two year authorization to stay in the United States, not be removable by the country and they would be authorized to work in the United States," Andrew Senge said.

To get that approval, applicants have to have been in the US before they were 16 years old and under age 31 since June, 2007. They need to be in school, have graduated from high school or honorably discharged from the military. Also, they need to be living in the US at the time of applying and have zero felonies on record.

But having that criteria won't automatically guarantee approval by the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

"If they see the person is a threat as they review, if they shouldn't be granted they won't get it. No right to appeal, or reconsider, it's final," Senge said.

In Sioux Falls, there are more than 100 languages spoken with young people from Latin-American countries, Asia, Canada, Africa and more, that can benefit from this program.

"The only way to have a better quality of life, and they know that, is to go to college and have a career. Now they will have that opportunity to go and be productive citizens instead of doing nothing," Juan Bonilla said.

The Obama Administration says the process won't lead to citizenship. It's a temporary solution to the immigration reform and those who support it say it's a good thing. Those who oppose say it's just a pass to amnesty.

With election season around the corner, there is also a high level of uncertainty with the future of this program. Because it was an executive order, any new executive could easily overturn or change the program as it stands today.

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