Advocates Struggle to Reach Immigrants Eligible for Deferred Action

The New York Times

December 8, 2013


The two women had spent a couple of afternoons wandering a heavily Chinese neighborhood in Brooklyn on a seemingly straightforward quest: to find young, undocumented immigrants and enroll them in a federal program that lets them stay in the country for at least two years and work legally. But after they canvassed bakeries and restaurants, Internet cafes and bubble tea shops, and buttonholed scores of workers and customers, who were mostly suspicious if not downright hostile, the challenge of their mission had begun to weigh on them. “Chipping away at the ice,” sighed Susan Pan, the legal fellow at Atlas: DIY, an advocacy group for immigrant youths, as she and her colleague, Wendy Tsang, paused to drink a restorative cup of milk tea. “Trust is extremely critical.” Across the country, immigrant advocates have been confronting similar challenges amid a renewed push to sign up immigrants for the program, known as deferred action. The effort has acquired a sense of urgency as comprehensive immigration legislation has stalled in Congress, dimming the possibility that lawmakers — at least in the near term — might provide a path to citizenship for those here illegally.
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