Deportation Relief Spurring Young Immigrants to Graduate or Return to School

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Nadia Macias, center, volunteer attorney at Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland, answers questions to young immigrants during a community forum on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at Cesar Chavez Learning Center in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. Undocumented immigrants who are applying and qualify under Pres. Barack Obama's executive order will benefit with temporary work permits and protection from deportation. About 1000 people showed up for the session hosted by Oakland Community Organizations. (Ray Chavez/Staff) ( RAY CHAVEZ )

Oakland Tribune
September 4, 2012
Written By Matt O'Brien and Theresa Harrington

As the fall semester begins, thousands of Bay Area high school students now have another reason to graduate, and thousands of young adults have a reason to return to school.

Proof of being in school or having graduated from high school could be a shield against deportation and the key to jobs for an estimated 1.76 million young, illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children if they qualify for the federal "deferred action for childhood arrivals" program announced in June.

Educators hope the lure of protection against deportation and renewable work permits will kindle the academic aspirations of young immigrants.

That hope seems a reality in East Contra Costa County, where one educator said she saw a spike in July enrollments for GED and English as a Second Language programs.

"It's just constant all day and evening," said Debbie Norgaard, an adult education coordinator for the Liberty school district.

"There's just a steady flow of new students wanting either ESL or GED classes. It's just real unusual. I'm sure it's because of this new (deferred action) program. We have had a couple of students who have requested verification letters from our GED teacher."

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