Wednesday, Aug. 15, was the first day that 21-year-old Josue Saldivar and more than 1 million other young, undocumented immigrants could apply for work permits and temporary protection from deportation. In June, President Obama announced the deferred-action policy as a stop-gap measure while the DREAM Act, which would provide conditional legal status to undocumented students and U.S. military personnel, is stalled in Congress. Locally, the group Undocumented Youth in Action is organizing forums to help DREAMers like Saldivar file deferred-action applications. The group is looking for lawyers to help out. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What's Undocumented Youth in Action?
Our main purpose for the coming weeks or months is to establish and implement community forums throughout the community so eligible individuals can apply for deferred action. Now we're doing outreach to try to partner and collaborate with organizations to make that happen.
What is needed?
You have to provide a birth certificate, provide English translation of the birth certificate, some identification, school records, rental agreements, transcripts and any awards you've received. You need to prove you've been here for the past five years continuously.
What is the age range for those eligible for deferred action?
You have to be between 15 and 30, and you have to have entered the U.S. before the age of 16. They have said they would allow short, brief travel outside of the U.S., but they haven't dictated what that looks like. One month? Two days?
Why is this issue important to you?
I came into the U.S. when I was 8 years old. At that age, I knew I was going into a new country, and I realized I wasn't born here. But it wasn't until high school that it was an issue. I was a 4.0 student and involved in many clubs in my high school. That I would be unable to go to the university and get scholarships based on my hard work didn't seem possible. But since high school, I became somewhat of an activist in my community.
Have you been able to continue your education?
Due to my involvement, I have been able to get some scholarships, and fortunately, I have been able to continue my education. There are resources out there, but not a lot of undocumented students know of these resources. They become unmotivated, and some think the only way out is to go back to their country of origin. But we have worked to let students know there are opportunities and resources to go to school.
What do you think of Gov. Jan Brewer's order to prevent DREAMers from getting driver's licenses?
I am not surprised. We have seen many attacks on our community, and this is just another one. We saw it with SB 1070, HB 2281, Joe Arpaio and Russell Pearce.
Right now, nothing is set in stone, but we want to establish a relationship with lawyers. We want and need lawyers involved in our community forums to provide legal advice. ... Sometimes, it might be better not to apply.
When might it be better to not apply?
In the application, it says that some misdemeanors would be accepted, but it depends on the severity on those infractions and those penalties. Some have more than two or three. ... Their future is pretty much uncertain.
Are there concerns that applying opens you up to future problems?
Yes. Ever since we heard that this was going to come out, we've wondered, "What if (the deferred actions) are not granted?" The president has said (rejected applicants) won't be placed in deportation proceedings, but we have only heard this from the president. ... The concern is: Who else will have access to this database, and what will they do with this information? Could they come and take our parents, when they won't be applying, since they don't qualify? Still, that won't stop me from applying.
What misconceptions frustrate you?
We've heard we've only come here ... to take American jobs. ... I've been here more than 12 years. I consider myself American, and Tucson as my home. The main thing that I want to make sure people get right is that we are not illegal. We are undocumented.