For the first time in this country, as many as 1.7 million young undocumented immigrants will be eligible to apply for deferred action status under an ambitious immigration initiative by President Obama that goes into effect today. It will allow young undocumented people to work and live freely in the United States without fear of being deported.
The program will provide two-year renewable work permits and deportation deferrals to illegal immigrants brought to this country as children. In order to apply, individuals must be 31 or younger and have been in this country since they were 16. They also must be in school, have graduated from high school, or have been honorably discharged from the military.
While the deferred status is only temporary, it also offers opportunities to obtain Social Security numbers, apply for driver’s licenses, and request financial aid for college — luxuries that many American citizens take for granted. Moreover, it’s a chance for young immigrants to step out of the shadow of their undocumented status.
Angy Rivera and Yohan Garcia are both undocumented and will be joining hundreds of thousands of others like them, to begin the application process today.