Johnson, who joined Mayor Eric Garcetti and others to speak at downtown’s Los Angeles Central Library, said one of the programs will expand the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to more “dreamers,” people who were brought into the country as children and do not have legal immigration status.
Applications will be available on the Feb. 18 launch date, he said.
The federal immigration agency, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, is also “on track to accept applications” starting in May for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, which affects parents of U.S. citizens or those here on a green card, Johnson said.
Johnson recently visited New York and Chicago to raise awareness about the programs, which were expanded or created through executive directives issued in November by President Barack Obama.
Garcetti said his Office of Immigrant Affairs has started a campaign — Step Forward L.A. — to raise awareness among the estimated 220,000 Angelenos who could be eligible for the programs. He said the programs will also benefit the economy and people who work under-the-table.
During his talk, Johnson asked a member of the audience who said she is eligible for one of the programs to come to the stage.
“There’s a program here called ‘Step Forward L.A,’ Would you please step forward, please don’t be shy,” he told the woman.
Johnson then handed her a felt tip pen — similar to the one he used to authorize the two programs, he said — and told her, “ma’am, I’d like you to fill out your application with this pen.”
Garcetti said the immigration programs are coming at a “historic moment in American history.”
“Los Angeles, 2015,” he said, is similar to the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, or the Delano grape strike in 1965, or the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2004, “those moments when civil rights moved forward.”
Garcetti told the audience — made up of immigrant advocacy groups and a few who plan to apply for the program — that libraries, parks and other city facilities will house DACA and DAPA help desks and other resources under his Step Forward L.A. program.
Libraries currently have trained workers at citizenship desks who can also give advice on the deferred action programs, he said.
“There are thousands of volunteers waiting to help you — fellow students, parents, community groups, folks from the faith community,” he said. “We will see this moment through with success, to help you settle into communities that you already call home.”
“And at the same time … we want that to be the gateway to everything else — increased healthcare, citizenship courses … English-as-a-second- language classes — the things that you need to be able to access a better quality of life,” he said. “This is just a doorway to enter a room full of greater integration .. driver’s licenses, scholarships, tax assistance, all of the things that you deserve and need are part of what this pathway is for us here in Los Angeles.”
Garcetti said after the roundtable talk that existing city resources amounting to about $10 million will be used for his Step Forward L.A. program. Services at park facilities, and some through GRYD, the Mayor’s Office’s Gang Reduction Youth Development program, are still being developed, according to mayoral spokeswoman Vicki Curry.
The expanded DACA program removes an age limit that previously only allowed people 30 years or younger to apply, and also lengthens the stay and work permit duration from two years to three years. People who apply for the program should also have been in the country continuously since Jan. 1, 2010, and have arrived in the country before age 16.
The new DAPA program will apply to parents who have been in the United States continuously for the five years starting Jan. 1, 2010, and must have a child who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Applicants of either program will undergo background checks and be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if they pose a public safety or national security threat.
Johnson followed up the talk with a visit to USC, where he will deliver remarks to students and faculty.
On Friday, Johnson will travel to Palo Alto to take part in the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection.
—City News Service
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