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What Obama's move to not deport young undocumented immigrants does, doesn't do

Undocumented Unafraid

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Claudia Ramirez was brought to the states from Atizapan de Zaragoza, Mexico when she was four-years old. She hopes to pursue a degree in nutrition to help educate people in her South Los Angeles community.

Undocumented Unafraid

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Ana Venegas' parents brought her to the states from Guadalajara, Mexico when she was ten-months old. This Saturday she will graduate from Cal State L.A. with a degree in Sociology.

Undocumented Unafraid

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Luz Sanchez Barerra crossed the border illegally with her sons Ruben and Isaac, who were one and four-years old at the time. Now she lives with her family in low-income housing in Boyle Heights and supports her family through cleaning and cooking jobs.

Undocumented Unafraid

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In 2011, LAPD pulled over Isaac Barerra for an outstanding traffic violation. He was briefly held by ICE and faced deportation, but now is out on bail.

Undocumented Unafraid

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Alma de Jesus with her daughter Eztli Catalan and son Mazatl Catalan. Alma finished her degree in Chicano Studies at Cal State Northridge, but was unable to get a full time job due to her status.

Undocumented Unafraid

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Alma de Jesus came to the states when she was six years old. Her daughter Eztli Catalan and son Mazatl Catalan were both born in the United States and are US citizens.

Undocumented Unafraid

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Originally from Medellin, Colombia, John Perez came to the states when he was three years old. He is a strong leader in the queer, undocumented movement.

Undocumented Unafraid

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Ruben Sanchez came to the US with his mother when he was one-years old. This year he was admitted to UC Santa Cruz and will be the first of his family to go straight to a four-year college.


Now that the Obama administration has announced it will grant deferred action to certain young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors, their long-term fate is no longer as precarious as it's been throughout their lives here so far. But that's not to say it's no longer uncertain.

Deferred action is just that: the deferment of removal action, or deportation. It is not a path to permanent legal status, let alone citizenship. Here is how it's described on the Homeland Security website:

Deferred action does not confer lawful status upon an individual. In addition, although an alien granted deferred action will not be considered to be accruing unlawful presence in the United States during the period deferred action is in effect, deferred action does not absolve individuals of any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence. 

Under existing regulations, an individual who has been granted deferred action is eligible to receive employment authorization for the period of deferred action, provided he or she can demonstrate “an economic necessity for employment.” Deferred action can be terminated at any time at the agency’s discretion or renewed by the agency.

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Villaraigosa: deferred action will allow young people "to contribute mightily"

Undocumented Unafraid

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President Obama's proposal that would allow young people who were children when they were brought to America illegally to stay in the country was backed today by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

News that certain young people who live in the country illegally will now be allowed to stay in America was welcomed today by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who told CNN they will, “contribute mightily to the nation.” 

President Obama announced earlier today that young people who were brought to the country illegally before the age of 16, who have lived here for five years, who do not pose a security threat, and who have enrolled in school or the military will be able to apply for deferred action. 

Villaraigosa, an Obama supporter and chair of the Democratic National Convention, backs the plan.

“Look, we’re using our prosecutorial discretion here to say that the kids who have been here – many of them came as infants, they’ve lived here their whole life,” Villaraigosa said in an interview with CNN.

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