Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 5:30 pm | Updated: 9:27 pm, Wed Nov 21, 2012.

Bertrand M. Gutierrez/Winston-Salem Journal

More than 11,000 immigrants in North Carolina have applied for a two-year reprieve from deportation made available in the summer by President Barack Obama, according to the latest statistics provided by U.S. immigration authorities.
That number puts North Carolina in the sixth spot nationwide, behind California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois.
Two other Southern states – Georgia and Virginia – were in the top 10.
Since the Obama administration opened the application process Aug. 15, about 309,000 applications have been sent into U.S. Customs and Immigration Services from applicants nationwide. More than 53,000 have been approved, and about 10,000 have been rejected.
One of those applications belongs to Lupita Cabrera, a math major at Salem College in Winston-Salem.
In the United States since she was 8 months old, Cabrera said that she is fairly confident that she will be granted deferred action. Although it does not change an applicant’s legal status, it gives a two-year reprieve from the risk of deportation as well as the opportunity to get a work permit, and, eventually, apply for a driver's license.
In Cabrera’s view, she fits the major requirements.
To qualify, applicants must be between ages 15 and 30 and must have arrived in the U.S. before age 16.
In addition, applicants must have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007; have been in the U.S. on June 15; must be enrolled in school, have a high school diploma or a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the military or Coast Guard by the time of their application; and must not have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors.
The application itself cost $465, not including attorney costs.
Moreover, applicants must take a biometric test – such as a fingerprint. Biometric information is checked against databases maintained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal government agencies.
Any applicants found to have a serious criminal record could be deported.
“I already had my biometrics appointment at the beginning of November. I am just waiting on my paperwork to come in the mail. Just like everybody else, I am hoping to get a better job once I have everything in place, get a license, etc. I guess just have more freedom,” Cabrera said in an email.
Critics of the deferred action program say that it is tantamount to backdoor amnesty, fails to hold accountable the parents of these immigrant youths and creates a magnet for more illegal immigration.
After the presidential election, however, some Republicans in Congress, including Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, have called for immigration reform, citing concern that Hispanic voters continue to vote for Democratic candidates who favor reform.
Obama won among Hispanic voters by 44 percentage points, up eight points from 2008. And 65 percent of all voters supported a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, according to a CNN National Exit Poll. After the election, marquee conservative pundits George Will, Charles Krauthammer and Sean Hannity spoke in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.
“For the party in general … the problem is hardly structural. It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty. Yes, amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement,” Krauthammer wrote in the days after the Nov. 6 election.
Even if immigration reform does not go through, the deferred-action program is being underused, according to Penni Bradshaw, an attorney with the Winston-Salem law firm Constangy, Brooks & Smith.
Up to 1.7 million immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children could qualify for deferred action, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Eighty-five percent are Hispanic.
Would-be applicants have stayed away for various reasons, she said.
Ahead of the election, some feared a change in administration, she said. Some who have a general distrust of federal authorities can’t bring themselves to hand over their information. Others are still trying to save their money for the $465 application fee.
“I think there are still a lot of people who are eligible and still have not applied yet,” Bradshaw said.

N.C. ranked No. 6 in applications for deportation reprieve - Winston-Salem Journal: Local News