LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A foundation established by Carlos Slim, Mexico’s media mogul, and the Los Angeles-based Catholic Association of Latino Leaders have launched a joint pilot program to help eligible Hispanic immigrants obtain a legal path to U.S. citizenship.

The Carlos Slim Foundation has awarded a grant of $650,000 to provide individuals loans to cover the cost of applying for citizenship under provisions of the Deferred Action for Childhood Immigrants program, known as DACA.

DACA is open to those who came to the United States before their 16th birthday and are not yet 31, have been in the U.S. at least five years, have clean criminal records, are either in school or have completed at least high school and who meet other criteria.


It costs a total of $465 for the DACA application, fingerprinting and the application for a work permit. Approval means the government will not pursue deportation unless the individual breaks the law. Besides a work permit, approval comes with a Social Security card, issued on a two-year, renewable basis.

The pilot program would provide $465 loans to about 1,250 individuals eligible to apply under DACA but whose credit scores have kept them from getting loans from other outlets to cover their costs.

The pilot program was announced Aug. 16 during the association’s 2014 annual conference in Houston. Slim, who is chairman and chief executive of the Mexican telecommunications company, Telmex, was one of the speakers at the conference.

“This effort reflects a mutual concern of both organizations for immigrants who are applying for the first time or to renew their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status,” said Diana Vela, the association’s president and CEO, in a statement about her organization and the Carlos Slim Foundation joining forces to launch the pilot program.

The program will start in Los Angeles and Phoenix, then expand to Houston and San Antonio.

The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders plans to work with local credit unions, local affiliates of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, known as CLINIC, and Catholic media to host financial education workshops to help DACA applicants learn how to build good credit.

The Carlos Slim Foundation also has launched a website — http://accesolatino.org — with a number of resources for Latinos in the United States, offers tools and information about education, health care, job training information and information about DACA, too.

The Catholic association’s website is www.call-usa.org.