PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - The Obama administration on Tuesday directed young illegal immigrants to fill out new forms and pay $465 if they want to apply under a new program that would let them avoid deportation and obtain a U.S. work permit.
The government renewed warnings that the process would not lead to citizenship or give them permission to travel internationally. It will begin accepting immigrants' applications Wednesday.
The new policy gives more than 1.7 million young immigrants an opportunity to apply for the work permits including Cristian Cabrera. "It's very exciting, I've been waiting for this moment my whole life," said Cabrera. "I'm really happy President Obama tried to do something for us."
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals opens a 2-year window for the young adults to work, and more importantly peace of mind. "I know this is not the Dream Act, but this is something that I least makes me feel more secure," said Cabrera. "I'll be able to get my driver's license, so I'll be driving more freely. And I'll be able to work."
The program will also offer relief to those trying to pay for their education. "A relief for them and their pockets and for their families," said Jose Chiquito, an immigration activist in the Coachella Valley. "You know many of them are helped by their families, it will be just great for them."
The Coachella Valley Immigration Service and Assistance Office expects a busy week from the increased applications. Karan Kler is the executive director. He believes the policy change not only benefits young immigrants, but everyone in our community. "I think the bigger deal is about accepting that our community as a whole is one of immigrants," said Kler. "Even if you're born here, our heritage in a lot of cases, is of an immigrant family."
Some critics fear the President's policy will lead to fraud and abuse. Kler understands the concern and offers this warning. "If you don't file your papers adequately or if you go to false law firms, that are pretending to take your money, they could land you in great immigration peril," said Kler.
For more guidelines, the documents needed and eligibility requirements, go to USCIS.gov.