By Paul Bisceglio
“Finally,” Evelyn Medina told the Huffington Post on Tuesday as she walked out of the Honduran Consulate. With newly-minted passport in hand, the 23-year-old social work student was ready to join young undocumented immigrants across the city — and nation — in applying for a permit to remain and work in the United States on Wednesday.
With a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama administration announced in June that it would cease deporting illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, provided that they could prove that they arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16, have remained at least five years and are in school, graduated or served in the military — and pose no safety threats to the country.
The Department of Homeland Security announced on Tuesday which documents immigrants would need to provide to qualify for the program: a passport or birth certificate, school transcripts, medical and financial records and military service records. Additionally, they would have to pay a $465 fee. The application itself appeared online at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website shortly after the announcement, a day before authorities had said it would.
Maria, a young Chilean, was gathered with a number of other undocumented immigrants at a Latino community center in the city when she saw the document, according to CNN. “I found the form!” she shouted as she leaped out of her seat, then began to fill out the form immediately. She told CNN that she was too afraid to divulge her personal details, but would feel differently once her status was ensured.
According to the Huffington Post, hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants could benefit from the program, but Homeland Security officials have stressed that they have no estimate of how many people will apply. Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has emphasized that approved to avoid deportation “does not provide lawful status or a path to citizenship.”
A woman named Mayra Rivera, 47, visited the Honduran Consulate on Tuesday with her 18- and 20-year old kids to help them apply for passports. “They came here when they were children. So, for them, even though they are from Honduras . . . this is their adoptive country and they love it a lot,” Rivera told the Huffington Post in Spanish. “For them to succeed . . . is like winning the Lotto.”
Tags: Alejandro Mayorkas, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Department of Homeland Security, Evelyn Medina, Honduran Consulate, illegal immigration, immigration, Mayra Rivera, Obama administration, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, undocumented immigrants
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