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Obama's new program for young illegal immigrants: How is it going?

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"This is one of those issues, like the 'fiscal cliff,' where everything turns on the election," he says.

About 1.26 million people are immediately eligible for DACA, and another half million could qualify in the future, according to the Migration Policy Institute. That's just a fraction of the estimated 11.5 million people living in the US illegally, but the program's ripple effects could be much wider.

To be eligible for DACA, a person must have been under age 31 on June 15, show that they came to the US before turning 16, have continually resided here for the past five years, meet educational or military-service requirements, and not pose a threat to public safety or national security.

The acceptance of applications through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) started Aug. 15, two months after the policy announcement. It's been a steep learning curve for potential applicants and the nonprofits, employers, and educational institutions that can help them document their eligibility.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, for one, has posted a section on its website to help students get their records together to show their educational and residential history for the DACA application.

Thousands of people have shown up for free legal clinics in Los Angeles and Miami, and more than 70 such clinics have been organized all around the country by groups such as the Boston-area Student Immigrant Movement (SIM). This is partly in response to reports of lawyers offering to help people for exploitative fees of $1,000 or more.

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