Since Obama’s deferred action immigration policy passed, 180,000 immigrants have applied for consideration and 4,591 have been approved since Oct. 10. The program could change the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought into the United States as children.
A 24-year-old immigrant from Georgia is one of the first illegal immigrants in the nation to receive the two-year reprieve from deportation. Her story is similar to young illegal immigrants in Miami, Florida and throughout the United States. Her parents brought here to the U.S. from Mexico when she was only 9-years-old and she feels estranged from her native country.
With government approval, she can now work legally in the U.S. and pay taxes. Though she has qualified for “deferred action” she is also trying not to get her hopes up because her future and status are unknown.
While there is immediate relief, she is still guarded. She no longer has to live in fear of being sent back to the country she hardly knows, but is also wary about her long-term prospects in the United States. Her work permit and the government’s agreement to delay deportation are only good for 2 years.
There are also immigration authorities that are suing to stop the program. Critics believe that President Obama abused his power by going around Congress to protect the young immigrants. Others have claimed that the program is an illegal form of amnesty that is straining taxpayer-funded resources. Supporters argue that the bill is a humane way to treat young, educated immigrants, who did not choose to come here, but who have deep roots in the United States.
The 24-year-old offers some perspective on her individual circumstances and how the program could help young immigrants nationwide. The 2-year work permit will allow her to get a driver’s licensing, go to nursing school, start a career and contribute money to the country and pay taxes where she is living and working.
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Immigrant among first in nation to receive temporary reprieve,” Jeremy Redmon, Nov. 3, 2012