Undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the US as children, began applying for a deportation deferral action and a two-year work permit on Wednesday.
An unknown number of Irish who came here at a young age with their undocumented parents will apply.The Irish International Immigrant Center in Boston will hold information sessions about the program on August 23 at 1:00pm, August 28 at 6:00pm, and September 17 at 10:00am.
One Northern Irish family based in New Jersey welcomed President Obama’s announcement which will see his administration stop deportations and grant work permits for qualified undocumented young adults currently living in the U.S.
“I was in shock,” says Malachy McAllister, whose two youngest children, Sean Ryan, 24, and Nicole, 26, stand to benefit from the new policy as they came to the U.S. when they were under 16.
The move comes as a result of the Obama administration’s controversial immigration program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants are expected to take advantage of the new policy, which GOP nominee Romney could scrap if elected.
Lizbeth Mateo, (28), came here from Mexico with her family when she was 14. A prime candidate for the program, she has high school and college diplomas from California as well as evidence she has been in country for more than five years.
"I have all of those documents, but, yeah, I still have to apply and see if my application gets accepted," Mateo told NPR.
A Washington DC resident, she is eager to contribute to her community.
"It only makes sense to make us part of the workforce," Mateo says, "and to give us a chance to really show what we can do for this country, what we can do for the communities and what we can do to rebuild the economy and rebuild the country."
Applicants must meet the following requirements.
-Born after June 15, 1981.
-Entered the U.S. prior to age 16.
-At least 15 years old at the time of filing the application.
-Enrolled in school, completed high school, were awarded a GED or were honorably discharged from the -U.S. military or Coast Guard.
-Resided continuously in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 to the present.
-Not in legal immigration status on June 15, 2012.
-Not convicted of a felony, a “significant misdemeanor,” or three or more other misdemeanors.
There is a lot of paperwork involved in the application which costs $465 to file.
Rene Franco of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona told NPR that they have received a lot of inquires.
"They speak the language like any American, so they are really acquainted with our culture," Franco told NPR. "It's very different than we see people who just arrived."
The Obama administration has argued with opponents that the program will help prioritize immigration enforcement on criminals.
"Deferred action does not provide lawful status or a pathway to permanent residence or citizenship," says Alejandro Mayorkas, the head of USCIS.
USCIS has set up a website for more information about the deferred action program.
Meanwhile New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called for a presidential election debate on immigration.
"I know of no ways to help our economy as quickly and as cost-free as opening up proper ways to people who will come here, create jobs, create businesses, help our universities," Bloomberg said in an editorial published by Bloomberg News on Tuesday.
He added: "Immigration is what built the country, immigration is what kept this country going for the last 235 years and now we seem to have walked away from it."