DHS launches new immigration program

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Tuesday directed young illegal immigrants to fill out new forms and pay $465 if they want to apply under a new program that would let them avoid deportation and obtain a U.S. work permit.

The government renewed warnings that the process wouldn’t lead to citizenship or give them permission to travel internationally. It will begin accepting immigrants’ applications Wednesday.

The paperwork for the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, can be downloaded from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, said the agency’s director, Alejandro Mayorkas. Applicants must pay a $465 fee and provide proof of identity and eligibility.

Under guidelines that the administration announced Tuesday, the agency said proof of identity and eligibility under the program could include a passport or birth certificate, school transcripts, medical and financial records and military service records. DHS said that in some instances, multiple sworn affidavits, signed by a third party under penalty of perjury, could also be used.

With the start of the program nearing, immigrants have been working on getting their paperwork in order. Tuesday morning, 23-year-old Evelyn Medina, from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was in line at that country’s consulate in Washington about 6:30 a.m. to secure a passport. With her passport in hand, Medina was all smiles as she walked out of the building just before 2 p.m., saying “finally” as she clutched the document.

Medina said she has been in the United States for about 10 years and is currently a student at a Maryland college, hoping to eventually earn a master’s degree and become a social worker.

A decision on each application could take several months, and immigrants have been warned not to leave the country while their application is pending. If they are allowed to stay in the United States and want to travel internationally, they will need to apply for permission to come back into the country, a request that would cost $360 more.

The administration announced the plan in June to stop deporting many illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. To be eligible, immigrants must prove they arrived in the United States before they turned 16, are 30 or younger, have been living here at least five years, and are in school or graduated or served in the military. They also cannot have been convicted of certain crimes or otherwise pose a safety threat.

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