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'Unafraid and undocumented' immigrants apply for deferred action

It's not right that young, undocumented immigrants have to be told by their parents never to enter a hospital or an airport. It isn't right that people who came to the United States illegally when they were children have to live in constant fear of deportation. But that has been the reality for many young immigrants for most of their lives.

Since the Obama administration announced in August that young immigrants could apply for work permits and temporary immigration status, some of those fears have subsided. For one young woman in Queens, her undocumented status became a rallying cry.

As a member of the non-profit New York State Youth Leadership Council, Angy Rivera began bringing her "undocumented and unafraid" message to the public. She also writes a column, "Ask Angy," aimed at counseling young, undocumented immigrants on matters ranging from dating to the threat of suicide. Her efforts have even been covered by NPR and the BBC.

Rivera came to the United States when she was 3 years old. Her mother brought her to the U.S. from Columbia using false passports. Rivera didn't have a Social Security number, so sheocouldn't legally work. She was also ineligible to receive financial aid, even though she did well in school.

But now Rivera is eligible for deferred action, which gives her a reprieve from deportation -- she doesn't have to live in fear anymore. Other young immigrants are also coming out of hiding and applying for the deferment program. About 180,000 have turned in applications so far, and almost 4,600 have been given approval.

Young immigrants who think they may qualify would do well to consult with an immigration law attorney. There may be further options available for applying for a green card and citizenship.

Source: Sun Herald, "Young immigrant, newly fearless, ponders future," Helen O'Neill, Nov. 3, 2012

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