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. It c an also
be downloaded at La Prensa’s swebsite of laprensa1.com
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. The Department of Homeland /Security 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 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.
She was not alone. Leonardo Irias Navas, head of the
consular section at the Embassy of Honduras, said the number of
people applying for passports has more than doubled in the last
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 undocumented 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.
Mayorkas said being approved to avoid deportation ``does not
provide lawful status or a path to citizenship.''
The announcement came just months before what is shaping up to
be a tight contest for the White House. President Barack Obama
has come under fire by Latino voters and others who have say he
hasn't fulfilled a previous campaign promise to reform the
nation's immigration laws. The policy change could stop
deportations for more than a million young undocumented
immigrants who would have qualified for the failed DREAM Act,
which Obama has supported in the past.
The DREAM Act was passed by the US House in December of
2010 but, lacking the necessary 60 votes, was not voted on in
the US Senate. Presumptive Republican Presidential Candidate
Mitt Romney told voters in Iowa that if he were President
that he would veto the DREAM Act.
Critics of the program, including House Judiciary Committee
Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, have called the policy
backdoor amnesty and say they worry about fraud.
``While potentially millions of illegal immigrants will be
permitted to compete with American workers for scarce jobs,
there seems to be little if any mechanism in place for vetting
fraudulent applications and documentation submitted by illegal
immigrants,'' Smith said Tuesday.
DHS said anyone found to have committed fraud will be referred
to federal immigration agents.
The Migration Policy Institute estimated last week that as many
as 1.7 million people could be eligible to stay in the U.S. and
legally work under the new policy.
DHS officials have repeatedly said the department doesn't have
an estimate on how many people may apply. In an internal
document outlining the program's implementation officials
estimated about 1.04 million people would apply in the first
year, and about 890,000 would be eligible.
The document, obtained by The Associated Press, estimated that
the program could cost between $467.7 million and $585.4
million. The department anticipated collecting about $484.2
million in fees.
Rico de La Prensa contributed to this report.