Hundreds of Dreamers on Long Island Eager To Learn About Deferred Action

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Me speaking at the Centro Cultural Hispano in Oyster Bay

We got some good news last week for those applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the new program for Dreamers. Barbara Weiner, a public benefits expert with the Empire Justice Center, told me that those receiving protection under this program will be eligible for Medicaid and Safety Net assistance in New York State.

The other good news is that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is pushing legislation that will allow those receiving deferred action to also be eligible for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). In the past, some legislators had opposed making state tuition assistance available to Dreamers because, critics said, the Dreamers couldn’t use their college degrees to get work. The new employment-authorized status of these young people takes that argument away.

Since deferred action was announced by President Obama eight weeks ago, I have had the privilege of meeting with Dreamers who are considering applying. The interest has been growing. I’ve offered 14 workshops on the subject to date, and, while the average attendance has been around 25 or 30, last night 70 people showed up. More than 400 people have participated in these two-hour workshops so far. We will be offering them in Brentwood, Hempstead, Freeport, and Oyster Bay in coming weeks. I’ll be offering a free information session on Monday, August 27, at 5pm at CARECEN (2000 Brentwood Road, Brentwood, second floor). Call 631-273-8759, Monday through Wednesday, for a complete schedule.

The biggest concerns these young people have is whether the program will continue if a new president comes into office. As an experienced immigration lawyer, I can answer most of their questions, but on this one, I am as unsure as they are.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is Director of Legal Services at CARECEN and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra University. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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