Smartphone app launched to help illegal immigrants avoid deportation

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Immigration advocates on Wednesday launched a new mobile app designed to help illegal immigrants to take advantage of President Obama’s non-deportation policy for so-called Dreamer immigrants.

Known as “Pocket DACA” — a reference to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the government’s name for the legalization program — the free app gives advice on how to apply for the program and lists groups immigrants can contact for help.

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The app allows users to do a pre-screening interview so they can see if they are likely to qualify, including age and residency requirements. It also contains information about how to avoid immigration scams and to get access to scholarships to help pay the fees required by DACA.

Under the non-deportation policy, which turns a year old on Thursday, those brought to the country at a young age who have avoided major criminal entanglements and have completed high school or enrolled in the military can apply for a two-year legalization, which allows them to avoid deportation and get a work permit. Those who would qualify are known as Dreamers after the name of legislation pending in Congress that would grant them full citizenship.

The app is a sign of the growing technological prowess of immigration advocates as they prepare for what could be a much broader legalization coming from either Congress or out of the Obama administration later this year.

Adam Luna, director of Own the Dream, an advocacy group, said they expect the app will be used both by those seeking to go through the process themselves and by organizers who are trying to help people navigate the application.

Matthew Burnett, director of the Immigration Advocates Network, said the app will increase the chances that future applicants will successfully navigate the process.

“By offering an interactive self-screening tool and contact information for local legal services providers, the app increases the chances that eligible young immigrants will be successful in their request,” he said. “The generation of young immigrants who can benefit from DACA are incredibly tech and social-media savvy. This app will put them in the driver’s seat when it comes to their future.”

The app was produced by Mr. Luna’s and Mr. Burnett’s groups along with American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council.

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