How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

One immigrant family's hopes for 2015 hinges on deportation relief

Immigration Reform

Deepa Fernandes /KPCC

The Sandoval-Rojas family is expecting 2015 to be a better year for them. Mother, Isobel Sandoval, left, qualifies for the deportation relief program and plans to apply in the spring. Sandoval along with her two daughters, Guadelupe and Marisol, and husband, Eraclio, will then be able to travel more freely.

The new year could be a life-changing one for some Angelenos eligible to apply for relief under President Obama's initiative exempting some immigrants from deportation.

Announced last November, the executive action offers legal status to certain undocumented children and parents. Republican opponents vow to challenge the plan, but the White House said eligible immigrants can begin applying for the program as early as February or May.

The plan will bring relief from deportation and grant work permits to children brought to the U.S. without visas as well as some parents of U.S. citizens and children with permanent resident status.

It’s a change that will allow many families to finally live without fear, said Zerihoun Yilma, associate director of the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. At the organization’s year-end party, Yilma said coalition members have been fighting for immigration reform for years. In 2014, they organized multiple trips to Washington, D.C., to push for changes to U.S. immigration policy.

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In immigration news: Insurance for newly licensed immigrants in CA, a shift in border arrests, 'Dreamer' student loans, more

405 Freeway

Eyeshotpictures/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The California state insurance department is marketing its Low Cost Auto Insurance program to immigrants without legal status who are expected to apply for special driver's licenses starting Jan. 2, under the law known as AB 60.

Calif. to offer low-cost insurance to new immigrant drivers - Southern California Public Radio The California Department of Insurance is aggressively marketing its Low Cost Auto Insurance program to immigrants who are expected to apply for special driver's licenses starting Jan. 2 under the state law known as AB 60. State officials have opened the program to drivers without legal status who will be eligible for a license in hopes of getting then insured, with the cost of insurance less than $450 a year.

U.S. border apprehensions of Mexicans fall to historic lows - Pew Research Center The U.S. Border Patrol has been apprehending fewer Mexican nationals at the border than migrants from other countries. It's the first time on record this has happened, according to an analysis of more than 60 years of Border Patrol data. From the report: "This shift is another sign that unauthorized immigrants from Mexico are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border significantly less often than they did before the Great Recession." The shift coincides with large numbers of Central Americans arriving recently, as fewer Mexican nationals have arrived.

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New state law creates loan program for students without legal status

UCLA Campus

Stock photo from Bogdan Migulski/Flickr Creative Commons

Students without legal status who attend UCLA and other UC campuses, as well as CSU system students, will have access to a new college loan program under a state law that kicks in Jan. 1.

California university students without legal status will have more access to financial help for college after a new state law kicks in Jan. 1.

The California Dream Loan program  will become available to University of California and California State University students starting in the fall. It adds one more funding option in a state where several polices already benefit immigrant students without legal status: A measure known as the California Dream Act allows them to apply for state financial aid such as grants and fee waivers; unlike in some other states, these students also qualify for cheaper in-state tuition rates.

But they still don't qualify for all the funding options available to U.S. citizens and legal residents - for example, federal financial aid. This creates a shortfall for many, who wind up staying longer in school in order to work or not finishing, said Democratic State Sen. Ricardo Lara, who sponsored the Dream Loan bill.
 
“We figured that last gap in terms of funding could come from a revolving loan program, which we established in the legislature this year," Lara said. "As students pay their loans back, the money would be made available for other students.”
 
Students who qualify may borrow up to $4,000 dollars per academic year, maxing out at $20,000 from a single campus. Funds will be made available by the time fall classes start, with students able to apply on a first-come basis through their individual university.

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Calif. to offer low-cost insurance to new immigrant drivers

California Report

Marcus Teply/KQED

Students at Orange County's Mexican consulate study for their driver's license tests. State officials hope that new drivers will buy insurance.

State officials hope a new law that offers California driver's licenses to immigrants in the country illegally will also spur them to buy insurance.

To encourage the practice, the California Department of Insurance is aggressively marketing its Low Cost Auto Insurance program to the large pool of immigrants projected to seek licenses under the AB 60 law taking effect Jan. 1.

"It would be a tragedy if after all this effort, the 1.4 million people who are getting driver’s licenses for the first time don’t have auto insurance," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. 

Jones and others recognized that the cost of getting licensed — $33  — is a lot cheaper than buying insurance for hundreds of dollars a year. So, Jones, working with Senator Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, got the state Legislature to open up the low-cost insurance program to the new category of immigrant drivers. 

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In immigration news: New California laws, lessons of DACA, executive action details, more

LA traffic

a.saliga/flickr Creative Commons

Among the immigration-related laws taking effect in California in 2015 is one that will allow immigrants eligible for driver's licenses under AB 60 to buy low-cost auto insurance. Immigrants without legal status may begin applying for the special licenses through the Department of Motor Vehicles starting Jan. 2.

New laws in 2015 to benefit undocumented immigrants - Orange County Register Several new California laws taking effect this coming year will benefit immigrants without legal status, including one that will allow them to buy low-cost auto insurance if they are eligible for a special driver's license under the law known as AB 60. Other new laws include one that lets immigrant students obtain more financial aid for college, and another that provides funding for legal counsel to represent unaccompanied migrant youths.

Immigration action 2.0: Lessons learned from DACA - MSNBC More than 580,000 young immigrants have received temporary legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, which rolled out on 2012. The program is a small-scale version of what's to come as the White House rolls out its new immigration plan next year. From the story: "...the number of total applicants pales in comparison to the estimated 5 million people who could potentially benefit from the latest round of executive measures."

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