President Obama’s announcement of a new immigration program, “deferred action for childhood arrivals” (DACA), last June makes 2013 a year of hope for undocumented immigrant youth and young adults in California. However, a key factor in determining whether their dreams become reality will be their ability to enroll in adult schools and community college programs.
Modeled on the DREAM Act, DACA provides undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children (before age 16), and who were less than 31 years old when the program was announced in 2012, relief from the threat of deportation. The program provides them work authorization, an opportunity to move out of the shadows of twilight employment into mainstream jobs. Nationally, deferred action can immediately benefit about 1.3 million immigrant youth and young adults who are 15 years of age or older. About 305,000 of them live in California, the nation’s largest immigrant state. As of Dec. 13, 2012, some 368,000 young people had applied for deferred action, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to process applications quite rapidly and approve most.