HEADLINES: Immigration

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Tens of thousands of young undocumented immigrants waited excitedly in lines as long as a mile and thronged to information sessions across the country on Wednesday, the first day that a federal immigration agency began accepting applications for deportation deferrals that include permits to work legally. At Chicago’s Navy Pier, organizers estimated that 13,000 people had come for the event, making it the biggest deferred action gathering in the U.S. on Wednesday. The administration has promised it will hire enough staff to handle the influx of applications. Still, long wait times are expected, especially with high turnout at events around the country. Groups held similar events in New York, the District of Columbia, Los Angeles and Detroit, among other cities. Attendees were instructed to bring documents showing their age and identity, proving they came to the U.S. more than five years ago and before they turned 16. They also need to show that they are either in high school, graduated, or obtained a GED, or that they were honorably discharged from the military. Immigrants were also told to bring $465 to pay for the application to the government, meant to cover the cost of processing. The administration has said applications will not lead to detention or deportation except in rare cases, and most seemed to trust that they were not putting themselves in the hands of a government that would then use the information to deport them. [Huffington Post and NYTimes]

Mayor Michael Bloomberg took his pro-immigration views on the road on Tuesday to public forums in Chicago and Boston, where he urged President Obama and Mitt Romney to make immigration a central issue in the presidential campaign. Mr. Bloomberg is pushing a four-point reform plan: giving green cards to foreigners who earn graduate degrees in the United States in science, technology, engineering and math; increasing the percentage of visas based on economic need; creating a special visa for entrepreneurs; and devising a guest-worker program for seasonal and labor-intensive industries. [NYTimes]

Earlier this week, just days before young, undocumented immigrants could begin to apply for work permits, New York state officials announced $450,000 in grants to groups that can help them navigate the guidelines and rules associated with the deferred action directive. The grants will support clinics, workshops and legal services across the state, where an estimated 80,000 immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 could currently benefit, according to a Migration Policy Institute analysis. Make the Road’s initiative was one of three to get $150,000 to help young immigrants navigate the deferred action process. The grants also went to Legal Services NYC and to a new state task force run by the New York Immigration Coalition and the New York State Immigrant Action Fund. [New York Daily News]

 

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