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LA libraries set to help applicants with Obama immigration plan

Mayor Eric Garcetti, right, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson spoke Thursday at the Los Angeles Central Library, in advance of the Feb. 18 kickoff of the Obama administration's executive immigration plan. Garcetti said the city is committing resources toward assisting immigrants who seek to apply. Librarians will be trained to provide information to those seeking temporary legal status and work permits. Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Los Angeles public libraries want to be free information centers for immigrants seeking temporary legal status under President Obama's executive plan.

City libraries have for a couple of years had "Citizenship Corners," where people can obtain information about applying for U.S. citizenship. Now, librarians are being trained to help guide immigrants through the process of applying for deportation protection and work permits.

Library officials said immigrants will be able to go the city's 73 libraries for details on where and how to apply. They'll also be able to look up applications online, attend informational forums, and get referrals to legal help.

It's part of a broader city effort to assist immigrants, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Thursday.

Speaking at the Los Angeles Central Library, Garcetti that the city has committed about $10 million in city resources to help implement the federal plan. He said that will be matched by another $10 million from foundations and nonprofits.

"We're using existing resources in places they trust, like libraries, where they already come to people they trust, like librarians, for information," Garcetti said.

He said city schools, along with parks and recreation staff, will also be trained to provide information to immigrants interested in applying.

Garcetti added that the resources committed are in-kind and that "we're not taking money out of any other parts of of the budget." A Garcetti spokeswoman said the city will rely on existing staff and departments for the outreach effort.

Garcetti and several other U.S. mayors recently announced a "Cities for Citizenship" initiative aimed at helping immigrants naturalize.

Garcetti spoke at the Central Library along with Department of Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson, who was in Los Angeles in advance of the immigration plan's Feb. 18 kickoff.

On that date, immigrants without legal status who were brought to the U.S. as minors may start applying for three years of temporary legal status and work permits; an estimated 300,000 people are believed to be eligible. Applications for parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents are set to open in May, with millions expected to sign up.