With deferred deportation approved, teen says he has brighter future
Published: October 10, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Armando Bernabe's plans have changed dramatically since June. With a little help from the pastor at his Catholic parish, who helped him file for a new deportation deferral program, Bernabe is now planning to go to community college when he graduates next spring from Lee County High School in Sanford, N.C. -- instead of taking the minimum-wage job in the underground economy that he expected to be his future. He hopes to later study criminal justice at a university and eventually join the FBI or otherwise work in law enforcement. The pieces of paper that make the difference came in the mail a couple of weeks ago, and now Bernabe, 17, admits to being much more focused on getting good grades this last year of school. He was one of the first applicants to be approved for a new program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, through which the Obama administration is offering certain undocumented young adults who came to the United States as minors the chance to get a temporary promise that they won't be deported, along with permission to work legally. President Barack Obama announced the program in June, describing it as "a temporary stopgap measure," using prosecutorial discretion to address the unsettled status of this group of young people until a more permanent legislative fix can happen. At an Oct. 1 migration policy conference in Washington, attorneys and other advocates for immigrants heard from Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, about the progress of the program and peppered him with questions about it. Meanwhile, in Sanford, Bernabe's application for DACA was among nearly 400 that have been submitted so far by LaSalette Father Robert Ippolito, his pastor at St. Stephen the First Martyr Church. Nationwide, an estimated 1.7 million people between the ages of 15 and 30 might be eligible for the program, which applies to those who have been in the U.S. for at least five years, arrived before they turned 16, have clean criminal records and are in the military, in school or have completed at least high school. The approvals are good for two years and can be renewed.
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