Thousands Apply for Deportation Deferrals
With as many as 1.7 million estimated to be eligible, thousands of illegal immigrants waited in mile-long lines at information sessions across the United States on Wednesday, the first day that a federal immigration agency began accepting applications for the Obama administration’s deportation deferral program, which includes permits to work legally. The response to this program was unexpectedly immense.
Several illegal immigrants were worried about the risks involved in coming forward because that the program does not provide any legal immigration status. However, this is a chance they will have to take since many of them are here to provide for their families or receive a better education that is not accessible to them in their home countries. This program would grant them a two-year deportation reprieve as long as they meet certain requirements so there are obviously some big advantages.
To take part in this program immigrants must have all their papers in order, as there will be no appeals for applications that have been denied. Because of this, most immigrants who showed up were looking for counseling about their eligibility status and which documents would be necessary. This counseling was being offered free of charge by dozens of lawyers and volunteers with help from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
There have been both good and bad responses to President Obama’s program.
Republicans see this program as a form of amnesty for immigrants who broke the law by being here illegally. They are also against it because the unemployment rate is over 8 percent at the moment and giving more people permits to work would only worsen the situation.
Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer went a step further by issuing an order to make sure that immigrants who were granted a deportation reprieve would not be able to receive public benefits or obtain drivers’ licenses. This was done in an effort to protect the benefits that are financed by taxpayers.
In New York, however, there is more support for the Obama Administration’s deportation deferral program. The City Council set aside about $3 million to provide free legal services to illegal immigrants applying for the program.
Obama campaign strategists hope that this would rally up more votes from the Hispanic population.
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