by Max Brantley
Nearly 2,800 young people from Arkansas have been granted deportation relief and given work permits under a program launched a year ago by President Barack Obama.
It aims to help people who came to the U.S. as children and are productive. In Arkansas, relief had been given to 2,760 of 3,606 applicants as of July 1.
“Here in Arkansas we are celebrating the one-year anniversary of deferred action. It is a wonderful program,” said Mireya Reith, director of Arkansas United Community Action.
An advocate for immigration reform, Reith said she is proud of the number of applications processed in Arkansas — at a rate ranking Arkansas in the top third of states. Still, she said, there remains much to do.
An estimated 9,000 young immigrants are eligible for DACA. Some are still too young to apply but others have not been reached. Reith suspects that most are living in rural Arkansas where they do not have easy access to apply.
Still others, she said, may be hampered by costs of the application or in hiring legal counsel. The application is about $500, but for those who need legal representation the costs can skyrocket.
“We only have three nonprofits offering legal services to undocumented immigrants, so there is a huge waiting line,” Reith said in a telephone interview Thursday.
All four Republicans in the House from Arkansas have opposed this Obama initiative.