The president uses executive powers to protect undocumented youths.
“A turnout like this really shows how much this affects the community,” said Alicia Martinez, a member of the Orange County Dream Team.
Inside a packed auditorium at Betsy Ross Elementary in Anaheim, information on the deferred action process was presented to a crowd of 500 people, with about 500 more still lining up.
Announced in June by President Barack Obama, the deferred action process would protect as many as 900,000 undocumented youth under the age of 31 from deportation, as estimated by the Immigration Policy Center.
“It’s not amnesty, not full amnesty, but it does take a lot of the pressure off,” said Raul Rodriguez, Rancho Santiago Community College chancellor.
Using his executive powers, Obama bypassed Congress and opened a new pathway allowing eligible illegal immigrants to avoid deportation and apply for work permits based on certain eligibility requirements.
“The real intent behind this is to help young people that are trying to help themselves and be more productive citizens,” Rodriguez said.
The process would defer deportation for at least two years, a term subject to renewal that can be modified, overruled, or rescinded at any time and without notice.
Conducting the educational forum on August 16, the Dream Team was prepared to answer questions a day after individuals requesting deferred action were able to apply.
The first forum was held just days after Obama made his announcement. More than 500 people showed up to that first event, Martinez said.
“Out of the 31,000 undocumented people in Orange County, about 1,000 had come and only half were able to stay for the presentation,” said Estefania Cruz, an OC Dream Team volunteer.
Immigration policy experts estimate 1.76 million immigrants could apply for the program, which is up from 1.39 million when Department of Homeland Security updated guidelines.
“Right now, people are working off the books, outside the economy, and the more we could make our young people into taxpayers instead of tax-takers it’s all for the good,” Rodriguez said.
As an activist, Martinez said she would like to see more “allies” join the movement in support of this process, believing that most people don’t see the situation as something that affects them.
One lingering issue is the threat of deportation in an uncertain future.
“It could change and information could be used against them, but people wouldn’t allow that to happen,” said Rodriguez about the concern that information could backfire on applicants.
“By the look of attendance, people are willing to take the risk,” Martinez said.
The Dream Team expects to continue the forums until December.
|1942More than 4 million Mexican farm laborers were contracted to work.|
|1982About 3 million illegal immigrants were granted amnesty.|
|2006George W. Bush proposed a guest worker program to fill low-paying jobs.|
|2012Deportation of undocumented youth halted as reform stalls.|