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College student falls through the cracks of 'deferred action' policy

Last month we wrote about the passage of an executive order by the president of the United States, which makes it possible for some undocumented immigrants to remain the country without fear of deportation for a set period of time. Eligible individuals have to meet several different criteria including going to school or being a part of the military.

While many students and members of the armed forces sighed in relief, as we wrote in that post, there will still be many undocumented immigrants to whom the change will not apply. In addition to meeting education or military requirements, those who are eligible must have been in the U.S. for at least five years. They must also have come to the country before the age of 16.

Despite the work a 23-year-old Miami Dade college student has done lobbying for the passage of the DREAM act on behalf of Students Working for Equal Rights, sadly, the immigration policy change will not help him to stay in the country legally. This is because he did not come to the U.S., from his birth country of Honduras, until a couple months after he turned 16. Immigration experts estimate that there are many others who will find themselves in the same predicament.

The fact that the young man has managed to attend college is a feat within itself. Many undocumented immigrants find it impossible to pay the high tuition as they are not eligible for the federal financial aid that makes it possible for so many citizens to obtain and advanced education. Seeking a degree in civil engineering, he was working construction with his father when he met a recruiter at Miami Dade College. In addition to helping him apply to the school, she also assisted him in obtaining a full scholarship.

While the young man is not eligible to stay in the country under what is being referred to as "deferred action," all is not necessarily lost. An immigration attorney may be able to help him find another way to remain in the country legally.

Source: The Miami Herald, "For a Miami Dade College student, shift in immigration policy falls short," Kristofer Rios, July 7, 2012

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