- United States
The US president Barack Obama’s well awaited deferred deportation program for young illegal immigrants in the country kicked off this Wednesday August 15th, 2012, with thousands of undocumented immigrant youth and young adults turning up at various immigration centers and voluntary advisory workshops.
Chicago’s Navy Pier was one of the most crowded places on Wednesday when almost 12,000 undocumented immigrant youth lined up for getting help in the application process for the program. Pro-immigrant organizations playing a considerable part in organizing such workshops said they were flooded with applications and files of these immigrants.
The night before the commencement day of the program, groups of immigrants from all over the state started gathering at the Navy Pier, in order to be one of the first to apply for the program. The crowd gathered at the Pier mostly included teenagers and young adults carrying all their relevant documents that they had been advised would be required for the application process.
In the Navy Pier Grand ball room, about 60 attorneys were voluntarily assisting the undocumented immigrants, guiding them throughout the application procedure. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) was one of the major organizers of the workshops here in Chicago.
The Coalition said that almost 1,500 people were assisted by the attorneys on the first day. The remaining had to be either guided to other possible workshops in the vicinity or were given the official website of the group for any required assistance. On the first day, according to ICIRR representatives, thousands of illegal immigrants were intercepted by the group.
“We are going to organize at least one workshop a month.” said Lawrence Benito, the executive director of ICIRR, “We expected it to be big, but we did not know how big it would be.”
The organizers said that they had to address all the lined up potential applicants of the program before beginning the procedure through a message. They said that the immigrants were told that all of them might not be attended today.
“Today is the first day, not the last.” The announcement stated, “There will be other workshops in the coming weeks.”
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who has been anticipating this for weeks and is also one of the ideologists behind the workshops, said that the inflows were more than they had expected them to be.
“We apologize,” Gutierrez said, “but we are learning. I never saw a demand of this kind.”
Sen. Richard Durbin who, with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Rep. Gutierrez, also presided over the event said that the day was of significant importance in the history of reforms.
“This is an historic humanitarian moment,” Durbin said, “and I personally salute the President for his leadership. Durbin was also the co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, the actual ideology behind President Obama’s program, which failed to gain an audience in the US Congress.
According to local estimates, more than a million illegal young immigrants might turn up to apply for the new program, if they fall under the eligibility criteria provided by the US Department of Homeland Security.
The US immigration authorities are also preparing themselves for large numbers of applications for work permits coming their way, as the deferred deportation program will allow illegal immigrants to apply for 2 years temporary work permit after their applications for the program are accepted.
Tags: Deferred Deportation Program, Illegal immigrants, Immigration, Obama’s deferred deportation program, U.D Department of Homeland Security, United States, US Immigration, young undocumented immigrants