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Oklahoma immigration experts say misinformation abounds after Obama announcement

BY VALLERY BROWN vbrown@opubco.com Published: June 24, 2012

Immigration experts in Oklahoma are preparing for a surge of interest from people who want to take advantage of President Barack Obama's decision to ease rules on the deportation of undocumented immigrants brought to the country as young children.

But they warn the rules are far from set, and to be wary of anyone making promises.

“There is literally so much misinformation and a lack of understanding out there,” said Richard Klinge, associate director of advocacy, outreach and legal services for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. “The specific requirements haven't been developed and no one should be saying otherwise.”

So far, the government has released basic eligibility criteria: Undocumented immigrants must have been brought to the United States before age 16 and be no older than 30. They must have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have a clean criminal record, have graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or be military veterans in good standing.

Details still coming

More details and an application process should be in place in the next 60 days.

Chris Brewster, superintendent of Santa Fe South charter schools, said students and parents are asking questions about what the next steps are and trying to get documents together.

Educators estimate up to 25 percent of students at Santa Fe South High School are undocumented.

“We have kids living in fear,” Brewster said. “One minute a kid is getting ready for graduation and the next they're in general population at the jail awaiting deportation because of a broken headlight. We have to get these kids on to higher education and on to careers.”

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