This summer, President Obama signed an executive order granting immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children the ability to thwart deportation and apply for a two-year work permit. The program, called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, began taking applications on Aug. 15.
The same month, The Migration Policy Institute released a study estimating the number of young immigrants who could be affected by the policy change. The study estimated that there could be as many as 10,000 potential beneficiaries in South Carolina alone, where Latinos represent about 5 percent of the population.
So far, hundreds of young immigrants in South Carolina have submitted applications for Deferred Action. One concern that has been raised is that applicants are worried about providing their information to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, the sister agency of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees deportations.
However, USCIS has made it clear that information will not be shared between the two agencies except in very limited situations. For most applicants who have spent the majority of their lives in the United States, the Deferred Action program is what they have always dreamed of: the opportunity to come out of the shadows to live and work freely.
Such is the case for a 22-year-old from Beaufort County who was brought to the United States when he was 11-years-old. The young man said the Deferred Action program will finally give him the ability to open a store and become an entrepreneur.
"I think it's a great opportunity for us, especially for many of us who have the potential, but didn't have the chance to prove it," the Beaufort County man told Courthouse News in an interview. "It's more like a big door opening for us, and I think it's a small step toward a bigger one."
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Deferred Deportations May Help 1.7 Million," Iulia Flip, Nov. 6, 2012