Bill Could Extend Public Benefits to Deferred Action Recipients

PHOTO: Deferred Action workshop in Korean.Korean Resource Center/flckr
Deferred Action workshop in Korean.

Undocumented immigrants in California who have been granted deferred action could qualify for unemployment benefits and other state services under a new bill that aims to more fully integrate those participating in the program.

Assembly Bill 35 would extend to deferred action recipients the same public benefits available to other legal residents such as state-administered medical assistance.

"We just cannot afford to turn our backs on our young immigrant students, especially those who have proven success in their academic and employment achievements," said, Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernández, who chairs the Committee on Labor and Employment.

Earlier this summer, Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants deportation relief and a work permit for two years to qualifying immigrants under 30. So far, more than 300,000 have applied and 53,000 have been approved.

The California bill is written to provide participants in the DACA program three things:

- Protection from fraud and price gauging during the DACA application process. It does this by allowing only lawyers, consultants and notary publics regulated by the state to charge for assisting in filing the DACA application.

- In addition to allowing for a driver's license, the bill specifies that applicants also may qualify for state-issued identification cards.

-It would extend public benefits "including, but not limited to, state-administered medical assistance and unemployment compensation benefits, to the same extent that a legal resident of California is eligible for those benefits." It would do so by expanding county responsibilities.