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Young illegal immigrants line up for deportation reprieve

Los Angeles immigrant advocates are holding workshops Wednesday to help undocumented young people take advantage of a new federal policy aimed at allowing many of them to avoid deportation and obtain work permits.

Under the new policy, more than 1.2 million young illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children can seek to be allowed to stay legally in the country and work. It is seen as President Obama’s most ambitious immigration initiative.

PHOTOS: Undocumented youths apply for work permits

Lines of eager young people and their families began forming before daybreak outside the offices of the Coalition for Humane Immigrants Rights of Los Angeles, spokesman Jorge-Mario Cabrera said. The group plans a 9 a.m. ceremony at the offices at 2533 W. 3rd St. to welcome the policy change and hold informational sessions for applicants.

“We’re expecting 500 or more to be here today,” Cabrera said. "They’ll be able to apply if they have the documentation ready, but we expect most to get some information and then come back.”

Although the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is expecting about 1.2 million applications under the plan, advocacy groups estimate that more than 1.7 million teens and young adults may be eligible.  Those granted approval will be given legal authorization to work and a two-year deferral from deportation.

The program offers fewer benefits than the sweeping Dream Act, which failed to win approval in Congress in 2010. That legislation, which Obama supported, would have granted legal status to undocumented youths. The new policy, known as "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," does not.

Application forms are available online at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website:  http://www.USCIS.gov/childhoodarrivals, and can be submitted starting Wednesday. 


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-- Rebecca Trounson in Los Angeles and Brian Bennett in Washington, D.C.

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