GLOBAL ECONOMY

NYC To Spend $18M To Help Undocumented Immigrants Get Jobs

  • Los estudiantes David Buenrostro, Adrian James y Jahel Ramos, de izquierda a derecha, protestan fuera de las oficinas de campaña de Barack Obama en Culver City, California el jueves 14 de junio de 2012.  (AP foto/Damian Dovarganes)

    Los estudiantes David Buenrostro, Adrian James y Jahel Ramos, de izquierda a derecha, protestan fuera de las oficinas de campaña de Barack Obama en Culver City, California el jueves 14 de junio de 2012. (AP foto/Damian Dovarganes)  (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Astrid Silva verifica sus mensajes en un teléfono celular mientras aguarda que le llamen para renovar su pasaporte en el consulado de México en Las Vegas, el viernes 22 de junio de 2012. Silva, quien vive en Estados Unidos desde que tenía 4 años, aguarda ansiosamente la aprobación de la ley DREAM, bajo la cual los hijos de inmigrantes no autorizados a ingresar al país no serán deportados. Los activistas que abogan por los inmigrantes celebraron que el presidente Barack Obama haya suspendido las deportaciones de personas que carecen de permiso de residencia y fueron traídas a Estados Unidos cuando eran niños, pero ahora temen que los jóvenes esperanzados por un nuevo futuro puedan ser blanco de defraudadores. (Foto AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal, David Becker)

    Astrid Silva verifica sus mensajes en un teléfono celular mientras aguarda que le llamen para renovar su pasaporte en el consulado de México en Las Vegas, el viernes 22 de junio de 2012. Silva, quien vive en Estados Unidos desde que tenía 4 años, aguarda ansiosamente la aprobación de la ley DREAM, bajo la cual los hijos de inmigrantes no autorizados a ingresar al país no serán deportados. Los activistas que abogan por los inmigrantes celebraron que el presidente Barack Obama haya suspendido las deportaciones de personas que carecen de permiso de residencia y fueron traídas a Estados Unidos cuando eran niños, pero ahora temen que los jóvenes esperanzados por un nuevo futuro puedan ser blanco de defraudadores. (Foto AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal, David Becker)  (LVRJ©2012)

New York City will break national ground in becoming the first city in the country to invest into a program specifically designed to help young undocumented immigrants find jobs and get driver's licenses.

The $18 million program is meant to help an estimated 79,000 undocumented immigrants become eligible for the federal government's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which allows DREAMers, or young undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children a chance to stay and work if they meet certain criteria.

Those who qualify for DACA get social security cards, temporary work permits and a chance, in some states, to get driver's licenses. But applicants need a high school degree, or a GED, and have to prove they've lived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday.

New York City's "immigration relief" program will help fund adult education classes and legal services for young undocumented immigrants who don't meet the criteria for DACA.

“It’s exciting to be the first city in America to make this investment in our young immigrants who, in turn, have so much to offer our city,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement. Quinn, currently the front runner in the race to become the city's next mayor, spearheaded the effort to create the program. 

But some don't see it as a job creator.

Bob Dane, communications director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the country's leading anti-illegal-immigration group, told Fox News Latino that the move is a political ploy to get the Latino vote and the city should use tax dollars to employ legal immigrants, not undocumented immigrants.

"They are brazenly blurring the distinction between legal and illegal," Dane said. "New York is hoping to expand the democratic voter base and they are using DACA as thin veil."

Melissa Garcia Velez, 20, a DREAMer and proponent for young undocumented immigrants, said the program will be a tremendous boon for people in a bind like her -- financially-strapped undocumented youngsters who cannot afford to go to school.

"We've seen cases where undocumented youth would have to choose between paying to apply for the Deferred Action program or paying for a semester of classes," said Velez, the Leadership Development Coordinator at the New York State Youth Leadership Council.

Velez also thinks it's a good step forward toward an eventual New York state DREAM Act, which would make federal financial aid available to undocumented immigrants applying to college.

"We've been fighting for two years," said Velez. "This will help give jobs to thousands that will eventually benefit the state."

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Bryan Llenas currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). Click here for more information on Bryan Llenas. Follow him on Twitter @BryanLlenas.