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Young, Undocumented Immigrants Can Apply For Program To Defer Deportation Starting Today

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Today young, undocumented immigrants can begin applying for a federal program announced by the Obama administration earlier this year that will allow them to obtain a legal work permit and defer their deportation for two years.

This morning immigrants looking for help filling out their paperwork formed a long line outside the headquarters of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. The advocacy program is holding workshops starting today to help young immigrants take advantage of the new program, according to City News Service.

Starting today they can go online and fill out paperwork in the program called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Each application costs $465.

In order to participate in the program, applicants must have arrived in the country before they turned 16 and stayed here continuously for at least five years. They must be under 31 years old and must be in school, graduated or serving in the military. They can't have a criminal record. The program will allow immigrants to receive a Social Security number and apply for a work permit, but it not a path to citizenship.

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Immigration authorities are expecting to field 1.2 million applications, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Even as many young immigrants expressed elation at the prospect of applying for legal work permits, others were wary that the move could end up hurting them later on down the line. There's no guarantee that the government will renew the program at the end of two years (particularly if Mitt Romney ends up in the White House), and some are nervous about giving up their information to the Department of Homeland Security.

"Everyone who applies will be known to Homeland Security hereafter," James Ferg-Cadima, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told TIME Magazine. "What becomes of that information down the road is an open question. That is the main unknown."

Related:
Obama Administration To Stop Deporting Some Young Illegal Immigrants