Consulado General de México en San Antonio
SAN ANTONIO -- Starting today, hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers may apply to stay and work in the United States without fear of deportation for at least two years.
Undocumented immigrants crowded the Mexican Consulate offices on downtown Navarro Street early Wednesday morning, anxious to submit forms needed to gain protection under the sweeping immigration reform program.
President Barack Obama signed an executive order in June that would grant qualified immigrants Dream Act-like protections. The administration announced guidelines and released application forms on Tuesday.
Local advocacy groups gathered at the Cesar E. Chavez Service Center Wednesday morning trying to get out valuable information.
Many are calling this an historic day in America. They say it is a small step, but huge progress in the right direction.
One young San Antonio woman who is eligible to apply said she felt like an unrecognized American.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates up to 1.7 million people may qualify for the program. The Associated Press is reporting 890,000 individuals would actually be eligible and the program could cost up to $585 million.
Supporters of the program are applauding President Obama, but they still want to see comprehensive immigration reform. There is a Freedom for Everybody Rally planned September 15 in Washington, D.C.
To be considered for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, as it is being called, applicants must meet the following requirements laid out by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
Applicants must also provide $465 after meeting the requirements.