DALTON, GA. (WRCB) - Georgia is among the top ten states that have illegal immigrants applying for a two-year deportation deferral, after the Obama administration passed a new immigration policy this summer.
People living in Dalton's Hispanic community say it's a tough application process, but is well worth it to be approved.
The two-year reprieve allows illegal immigrants to defer deportation and be eligible for work permits, social security numbers and driver's licenses. To get it, you have to prove someone brought you to the U.S. illegally before you were 16, have no criminal record, and be enrolled in school, or graduated.
One Dalton woman tells Channel 3 she couldn't wait to apply.
"It was something we prayed for every time they brought it up and cried every time it got shot down," she says.
This Dalton woman wouldn't go on-camera because she's still waiting for legal status. Her parents sneaked her into the country when she was five.
"I'm 28. That's a long time to be undocumented," she says.
She says it was an exciting day in June when the deferred action policy was announced.
"I cried that day. I was so happy, I cried," she says.
She and her sister decided to apply immediately. They're two of the 308,935 that have applied so far. Like her, the vast majority are from Mexico. Georgia ranks 8th in the nation for the most applicants so far with more than 10,206.
"It's so meticulous and what you need to prove you were here," she says.
She didn't have the paperwork to prove she was working in Dalton after graduating in 2003, which is a requirement.
"If you are working, you're not able to prove it anyway, so it's really hard to go back year by year," she says.
So, she was denied.
"Disappointed, but at the same time I knew in the back of my head it would be hard," she says.
But she's happy her younger sister did have all necessary documents and was just approved.
"She's going back to school and hopefully will find a really good job because of this," she says.
She says she knows a lot of other people in her situation and expects it will be a continued issue for the next generation of her neighbors, too.
"Because I am still in the Hispanic community, I know that they're still bringing kids in that way. It's not something that's going to stop," she says.
She says for now, she'll just keep working and living in Dalton illegally, but isn't giving up hope. She's now on a waiting list for a green card after marrying a legal resident.
People who are approved, like her sister, can re-apply after the two years are up, but are subject to deportation.
Wednesday, June 19 2013 10:35 PM EDT2013-06-20 02:35:27 GMT
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