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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Undocumented? A Seattle City Light Bill Could Help

Flickr Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives

The city of Seattle wants to help clear the way for some unauthorized immigrants to get a work visa. Today city officials reminded young immigrants that they can use a Seattle City Light bill to help prove their residency.

The reminder from the Seattle Mayor’s Office states that if you are 18 or older, you can add your name to your home’s light bill. The notice is aimed at city residents who may be eligible for a year-old federal program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Some young immigrants have nicknamed the process as going from “undocumented” to “DACA-mented.” The application requires proof of residency, like your name on a household bill.

The program provides temporary legal status to some immigrants who were illegally brought to the United States as children. It’s estimated nearly 1.8 million immigrants in the US are eligible, including some 40,000 in Washington state.  But the latest federal report shows only about a quarter of those eligible have applied so far.

Immigrant advocates say some of the hurdles for applicants are proof of residency, a $465 fee and some wariness about disclosing their undocumented status to the feds. But the payoff of DACA is protection from being deported.

As of last month more than 8,000 Washington residents have become “DACA-mented,” and a few thousand more are waiting to hear back on their applications.

Year started with KUOW: 2006