Young undocumented immigrants in Charlotte, N.C., and across the country began
filling out applications Wednesday to allow them to get work permits and to
avoid deportation for now.
In June, President Barrack Obama announced that undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children will be safe from deportation and able to obtain work permits, but the policy does not offer permanent legal status or citizenship.
Vianey Hernandez, 21, who has lived in Charlotte since coming from Mexico City at age 9, said she "never even for a second" thought she would not apply for deferred action.
"I'm applying because it'll facilitate things for me," Hernandez said. "We're breaking the law by being here either way."
Hernandez, her mother, sister, two aunts and two cousins crossed the border illegally in 1999. "My dad was here before we came," Hernandez said.
Now Hernandez, her sister and cousins are applying for work permits and deferred action on deportation. Hernandez has an associate's degree from Central Piedmont Community College and is starting classes at UNC Charlotte in the fall.
An aspiring physician's assistant, Hernandez said she would like to work in a medical office and thinks a work permit would help pave the way. She said she would like to become a citizen someday. "This is my home, this is where I was raised."
Jordan Forsythe, a Charlotte-based immigration attorney, said her law firm is going through its current clients first and accepting new clients every day to help them with the paperwork associated with applying for deferred action.
"For my clients, it's allowing them to come out of the shadows ... and contribute without fear," Forsythe said.
The filing fee for deferred action and employment authorization is $465, Forsythe said, and the processing time will be about six months.
Charlotte resident Daniel Alvarado, 24, came from Mexico at age 6, and has worked in the past as a service technician (he also is certified to do HVAC work). He said he would like to attend community college to study business administration, and hopes deferred action will help him on that path.
Alvarado is concerned that a misdemeanor he incurred after being arrested last month while protesting outside a detention center in Florida would cause a problem if he applies for deferred action.
He and his Honduran-born wife, who is 25 and also undocumented, have a three-month-old son who is an American citizen.
Some have criticized Obama's measure, saying the president circumvented Congress with his directive.
"This is a despotic action where the president has exceeded constitutional authority to implement legislation that the public and Congress has rejected more than six times," said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, a political action committee.
His organization is asking, among other things, for Congress to intercede and for federal employees to refuse "this and any other unlawful constitutional directives."
In June, the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, estimated there were about 40,000 undocumented immigrant students under age 30 in North Carolina. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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