Children of illegal immigrants find hope with new rule
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Across the country, young children of illegal immigrants are hoping to avoid deportation under a new immigration rule.
It will benefit more than a million people, who were brought to the USA before they turned 16 and will allow them to avoid being sent back to their home countries for at least two years.
Along with the excitement from the Latin community there's also fear. Fear that if they don't qualify they will be deported.
"They were there in Washington D.C. saying Obama, do not court us and then deport us," said Netchie Lopez with Chattanooga's Latin America Consulting Company.
Lopez says reaction is mixed and some worry this is a trap.
The application stays confidential, does not go to INS. That promise sent immigrants to registration lines all over the country Wednesday.
Lopez said, "I would be afraid for people who apply and do not qualify, that's why I tell them to see an attorney."
The rules are clear.
You had to have come to the united states before you were 16. You must have lived here for at least five straight years, be in high school, graduated or were honorably discharged from the military. You cannot be over the age of 30, and can't have any felony or serious misdemeanor charges.
"Don't push the envelope and say maybe I'll apply to see what will happen. It's a deferred action which can be deferred and can be not," said Lopez.
Congressman Chuck Fleishmann (R-TN) sees no difference with those who came here as children. "It's unfair to the millions of Americans who have played by the rules, worked hard and have become American citizens the right way," he said.
Lopez and other advocacy groups will help anyone looking for info on how to apply.
"I agree with the American people we should have taken care of our home and our people first," he said. "But there are advantages to both. These people...it wasn't their decision to come here they didn't come by themselves. In my opinion they should be given a chance."
The application can be downloaded from the immigration services web site, the cost is $465. The process can take a few months, and you need to re-apply every two years.