NEW YORK—The city’s illegal immigrants seeking deferred action status from federal immigration authorities are getting help from City Council in the form of an opportunity to return to school.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced on July 17 that $18 million in City Council funding will go toward creating more adult education slots, since the city’s adult education programs are currently at capacity or closed.
Priority for the slots will be given to illegal immigrants who are looking to apply for the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) ahead of immigrants with legal statuses, permanent residents, and citizens.
The eligibility requirements for DACA dictate that applicants must be working toward or have a GED degree or a high school diploma. There are an estimated 79,000 illegal immigrants in New York City who are eligible for DACA, and about 16,000 of those would need to enroll in an adult education program to be eligible for DACA.
DACA is a form of relief from deportation, signed into law by President Barrack Obama, which allows children of immigrants who entered the country illegally to apply for work authorization and to work and live in the United States legally for the duration of their status.
The funding will be split, with $13.7 million going toward adult education programs and legal services administered through the Department of Youth and Community Development, and $4.3 million for the City University of New York.
“We responded both to the president’s call and the immigrant community’s call in New York City,” Quinn said. “If they so choose they will be able to enroll in the adult education classes they need to get deferred action, to stay in the city, to stay in our country, and make our city, state, and country a better place.”
DACA was passed by Congress in June 2012. Since then, about one in four eligible illegal immigrants in New York have applied for the status and one in six have received it, according the Steve Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
“Some folks are in communities that just haven’t heard about it. Others think that you need a college degree. Some folks are actually working long hours, some are low literacy or high school dropouts,” Choi said.
The New York City government website has information for those who would like to apply for DACA at nyc.gov/deferredaction