Thousands of undocumented young people gathered at Chicago’s Navy Pier and beyond for what many called a historic day. They were all waiting to inch a bit closer to the American Dream.
Wednesday was the first day of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a temporary protected status for undocumented young people who would otherwise qualify for the failed DREAM ACT. Organizers say there were more than 13,000 undocumented immigrants.
They started lining up Tuesday evening and by 11 p.m. there were 500 people in line, even though the doors opened at 9 a.m. Wednesday. By midday Wednesday, hundreds of people filled the line that stretched out to East Wacker Drive.
There are about 1.7 million undocumented immigrants under 30 living in the United States who could qualify for deferred action, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
In June 15, President Barack Obama announced his administration would not deport undocumented students who were children when their parents brought them here. He also promised a two-year worker authorization permit. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department started accepting applications for deferred action on Wednesday for $465.
Undocumented young immigrants who qualify for Deferred Action, must meet the criteria listed here.
Immigration lawyers say undocumented immigrants considering applying and have a criminal record should get an attorney because those who apply for deferred action and have a criminal background will be placed in deportation proceedings.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights organized Wednesday’s event with more than 600 volunteers and 50 attorneys working to help students navigate through the immigration system.
But more help was needed. Many immigrants were turned away because ICIRR didn’t have enough capacity, said ICIRR’s spokeswoman Monica Treviño.
Tags: Deferred Action, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DREAM act, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Pew Hispanic Center, President Barack Obama, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Sen. Dick Durbin, undocumented immigrants