The New York City Council has allocated $18 million for the next two years to help undocumented immigrants seeking deferred action status to meet the requirements and grant them an opportunity to return to school.

This announcement came exactly one year after President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, which allowed undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before reaching their 16th birthday as of June 15, 2012, to get driver’s licenses or state identification and Social Security cards. To be eligible for this, an undocumented immigrant has to be working toward or have a GED certificate or a high school diploma.

Speaking at Bronx Comprehensive Immigration Reform Town Hall meeting on July 18, a day after the announcement of the allocation was made, mayoral candidate and Council Speaker Christine Quinn said there was a need to provide more adult education programs for immigrants in New York because all seats are currently full. This move underscored

New York as one of the most immigrant-friendly cities in the country.

“Yesterday, we put your money where our mouth is,” said Quinn. “We wanted to expand the adult education programs for those young people to get into the classes they need to get into and get the assistance they need to qualify for deferred action. It would be terrible for New York if we don’t help them, because we will lose all the potential

greatness they could give to this city.”

Of the $18 million allocation of tax dollars, $13.7 million will be given to community-based organizations through the city’s Youth and Community Development Department to create more adult education programs, increase seats and provide legal services. The remaining $4.3 million will expand education programs that are offered through the City University of New York, such as English for Speakers of Other Languages and General Education Development.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, 1.76 million youth nationwide are potential beneficiaries of DACA; 110,000 of them are from New York, one of the five states with the fourth largest numbers of potentially eligible immigrants. Of the 110,000, only 80,000 currently meet the education and other requirements to be qualified. Future beneficiaries amount to 30,000.

Prior to this announcement, the City Council has allocated $500,000 for a pilot program that will provide legal services for immigrants who are facing deportation. This effort has been lauded by several immigrants’ advocates and local elected leaders. According to published reports, both projects are the largest investment made by any municipality in the nation to help immigrants obtain the deferral.