Lastly, applicants must not have been convicted of a felony, a serious misdemeanor or three or more other misdemeanors.
Jose Torres, the Sonoma State student, delivered his application on Aug. 18. Since then, he's been given an appointment to submit his biometric data, which includes getting fingerprinted and undergoing a background check.
Torres grew up in the Mexican state of Jalisco, in a small town called San Jose de Gracia, until he was 12 years old. Accompanied by his mother and sister, Torres came to the United States on a tourist visa in 1999 to visit his older brother, who had entered the country illegally in 1994 to help support the family.
His father, who suffered diabetes-related health problems, died in 1996. His mother is also diabetic and sister is epileptic, so his older brother became the head of the family.
When their visas expired in 2001, Torres' mother and sister returned to Mexico but he decided to stay. Though it was rough the first couple of years, Torres quickly picked up the language and started doing well in school.
Ever since he was a child, Torres pictured himself working in an office building, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. That was his goal for as long as he could remember. He said he never really thought of himself as an illegal immigrant.
Those were the people who crossed the border concealed in trucks, making their way through the desert and mountains. Torres landed at Oakland International Airport. His bags were checked and visa stamped.
It wasn't until he was at Rancho Cotate High School that the truth hit him. Like many other high school students, Torres went to the local Department of Motor Vehicles office to get his driver's license. After he aced the written test, Torres was asked for his Social Security number. He didn't have it.
He went home and called his mother in Mexico and asked if it was in the black leather bag where she kept his birth certificate and other important documents.
"She kind of giggled, then she started crying," Torres said. "She just said, 'Mijo, you don't have one.' That's when it all hit me."
And that's when the doors started closing.
According to a recent analysis of U.S. Census data conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Immigration Policy Center, there are an estimated 10,710 people on the North Coast in the 1st and 6th Congressional Districts who either now or in the future could potentially qualify for the deferred action initiative.
Nationally, the study, which is based on census survey data, found that roughly 936,930 immigrants between 15 and 30 years old could meet the initiative's requirements. Another estimated 426,330 immigrants between 5 and 14 years old might qualify at some point in the future, if the initiative is not repealed.
In the study, while the majority of those who qualify are from Mexico, a significant number are from other regions including Central America, Asia, South America and Europe.
For example, in Lynn Woolsey's 6th District, there are 1,000 young people from a country other than Mexico who may qualify. This includes 110 people from Europe and 220 from Asia.
In Mike Thompson's 1st District, there are an estimated 590 undocumented immigrants who could potentially qualify. Of these, 240 are Asian and 70 are from Europe.
Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the initiative will allow federal immigration officials to focus their attention on people who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety.
Arnold Climaco, 20, entered the United States illegally with his parents when he was 2 years old. He was born in Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, a city of more than 1 million people on the outskirts of Mexico City. His father, a construction worker, came to Santa Rosa for "work and to make a better life," he said.
Climaco, who graduated from Grace Necessary Small High School, an alternative school in Santa Rosa, is currently enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College. He's taking some general education classes and a couple of business management courses.
In June, his father was watching the Spanish-language news when a report came on detailing the deferred action initiative. His father called him over to listen.
"When they were done talking about what you needed to qualify I was happy, because I met all those qualifications," Climaco said.
Climaco said he hopes deferred action will lead to a more legitimate status. When he graduates from school, he would like to start his own business, maybe a restaurant or a convenience store or market.
Torres said his dream of landing a job with an accounting firm in San Francisco now seems possible.
"I can see it. Now, I can see myself in a suit," he said. "Before it was nothing but a dream. I can feel it. I can smell it. It's there ... The feeling is something that I can't really explain. It's like finally being accepted in this country that I love."
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