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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

School District Opens Office To Process Requests From Undocumented Students

The office will issue the school documents students need to qualify for the government's work permit and deportation reprieve program.

— It’s been a few weeks since the federal government issued application guidelines for its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants work permits and reprieve from deportation for young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.

The rush has begun among young people looking to apply, and on Tuesday the San Diego Unified School District opened an office to manage and process the flood of requests for school records from prospective applicants.

A key requirement for people applying for the federal program is proving they attended high school in the U.S.

Bea Fernandez, who is coordinating the district office, said San Diego Unified is expecting transcript requests from about 10,000 of the roughly 30,000 people estimated to be eligible for the federal program countywide.

Throughout Tuesday morning, young people trickled into the office at the Ballard Parent Center in Old Town, their parents tagging along, carrying files of documents they’ve gotten together since the government released the application.

Fernandez said some of her time has been taken up ensuring school documents meet federal requirements to the letter.

The name on an applicant’s birth certificate, for example, has to match the name on school records exactly. But in Mexico, it’s common to include a mother’s name on official documents, which is rare in the States.

“When I started school, my parents just put my first name and my last name. But on my birth certificate it has both last names,” said Jackie, a 19-year-old who asked that her name be withheld because she hasn’t been approved for the program. “So here I am trying to fix that.”

Fernandez said that, provided with proper documentation, the school district is willing to make those kind of tweaks to ensure applicants have the documents they need. The office does not help applicants fill out the federal application.

The office is located at 2375 Congress Street in Old Town, and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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