New plan to defer deportation for undocumented immigrants - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

New plan to defer deportation for undocumented immigrants

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Those who came to the United States as children can now apply for the right to stay in the country and get work permits. It's called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

"I've been undocumented in this country for the past thirteen years."     

Victor Palafox is a member of the immigrant youth leadership initiative of Alabama. He plans to apply for the deferred action for childhood arrivals.

"When I graduated in 2010 I was accepted into various universities, UAB, auburn, springhill, and universities, yet I was unable to accept because of my status I would have to pay international tuition," said Palafox. 

Deferred action is now offered to illegal immigrants between ages 15 and 31 who were brought to the united states as children. When deferred action is granted, immigrants are exempt from deportation.

Isabel Rubio is executive director for the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama. She says her office is already flooded with inquiries.

"We have a list already of over one hundred eligible youth who we have already started making appointments for to complete this application process," said Rubio.

If granted, deferred action will remain active for two years, at which time recipients may request a renewal. According to the Pew Hispanic Center there are some 1.7 million undocumented youth who may qualify.

Opponents of the plan say this is president Obama's way of getting around opposition in congress. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had this to say.

"Of course this is just a short term matter. It can be reversed by subsequent presidents," said Romney.

State representative Spencer Bachus is one congressman who does not see this act as a positive move.

"Part of the history of this country is immigration but it's legal immigration and there's a structure," he said.

 While this plan does not open the door for permanent citizenship, Palafox says it does give him and others like him temporary relief.

Individuals may only request deferred action if they came to the U.S. Before their 15th birthday, enrolled in school, graduated or obtained a GED, or honorable discharged from the Armed Forces, and have not been convicted of a felony.