Gainesville’s Wood’s Mill High School invited families interested in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to attend a workshop Saturday in the school’s gymnasium.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced it would begin implementing President Barack Obama’s deferred action plan earlier this summer, and the specifics of the plan were made known in August.
Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, deportation is stopped for illegal immigrants who meet a specific set of criteria. Those who qualify are granted work authorization.
Qualifications under the program include having arrived in the country before age 16, graduated from high school or received a GED, and must not pose a threat to national security or public safety, among other criteria.
The workshop included a visit from Charles Kuck, an immigration attorney with Kuck Immigration Partners LLC in Atlanta. He explained to the crowd what exactly the program involved, who would qualify and some of the common questions he has been asked since the plan’s conception.
Kuck said among the most common questions asked are, “Is there an end date? What documents do you need? What happens to the program if there is a President (Mitt) Romney, and at least 80 other questions.”
He also added that the workshop was an important event for the Gainesville community.
“There is simply not enough information being distributed by the DHS about this program, and since knowledge and information are power, it is important that as many people as possible be aware of the program, its requirements and its limits,” Kuck said.
Those in attendance were able to ask questions about how they and their families might fit into the plan.
Juanita, who preferred not to give her last name, said she had been exploring all the options she and other family members had to escape the chances of deportation after they came to the U.S. illegally.
“My daughter is in school here, and we want to stay here as a family, you know?” she said.
Her biggest fear would be seeing her family split up.
“I have several generations here; they live with us. We want to stay together. I am happy we have options,” she said.
Kuck made clear that the program would help ease fears for those like Juanita.
“For those children who are beneficiaries of this program, it will enable them to live in America without fear. It will enable them to work legally, drive legally and contribute to the only country many of them have ever known,” he said.