Thousands of Illegal Immigrants Line Up for Right to Work in the U.S. Under Obama’s ‘Dream’ Act

Katy Dartford, Daily Mail (London), August 16, 2012

Nathaly Uribe has all the papers she needs to get a work permit – something the 17-year-old daughter of a construction worker only dreamed of while growing up as an illegal immigrant in the United States.

The high school senior has pinned her hopes on a federal program launched this week which defers deportation for young illegal immigrants, making it easier to get a good job or go to college.

Miss Uribe is just one of thousands lining up to take part in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – the Dream Act –  offering work permits to more than 1 million young illegal immigrants, though they would not obtain legal residency or a path to citizenship.


{snip} On Wednesday, around 13,000 people stood in line in Chicago, clutching piles of paperwork, for a workshop led by immigrant rights advocates at Navy Pier.

Hundreds of potential applicants waited outside nonprofit offices in Los Angeles for help filing paperwork that would lead to a work permit, Social Security number and driver’s license.

‘This is my country. It’s where my roots are,’ said Miss Uribe, who moved from Chile when she was a toddler and lives in Glen Burnie, Maryland. ‘It feels great to know that the country that I call home is finally accepting me.’

Less than three months before an expected tight presidential election, the new immigration program is mired in controversy.

Republican critics accuse President Barack Obama of drafting the plan to boost his political standing with Latinos ahead of November’s vote and say the program favors illegal immigrants over unemployed American citizens during dismal economic times.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney does not support so-called Dream Act legislation for illegal immigrants who attend college – a key group that Obama aims to reach with this program.

The former Massachusetts governor has also criticized the deferred action program but has not said it he would reverse it, pledging instead an unspecified “civil but resolute” long-term fix to illegal immigration.


Initial concerns that federal authorities might take a tough approach on applications or that a Republican presidential victory could unravel applicants’ gains have largely been pushed aside by massive interest from thousands of young people eager to work.


The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles has handed out 12,000 information packets about the program and is encouraging all eligible immigrants to apply as long as they have stayed out of legal trouble, said Angelica Salas, the organization’s director.

Manuel Pastor, director of the University of Southern California’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, said ‘What this has done is to signal that the president, who was unable to get comprehensive immigration reform, does at least care about the situation of these immigrants,’ Pastor said.

‘This is something that has been overwhelmingly popular in the immigrant population and in the Latino population in general.’

Some Republican lawmakers have accused Obama of sidestepping Congress and creating a backdoor amnesty program.

‘It’s a betrayal of American young people,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican.

‘We’re supposed to be representing the interests of the American people – not people who come here illegally from other countries.’


The documents to prove identity could include passports, birth certificates, school transcripts, medical, financial and military records.

Multiple sworn affidavits, signed under penalty of perjury, can also be used, Homeland Security officials said.

Anyone found to have committed fraud will be referred to federal immigration agents, the department said.


The lines on Wednesday grew throughout the day; the crowd in Chicago was so large that workshop organizers told them to come back another day.

‘Navy Pier is today’s Ellis Island, and while they saw New York City, today they see Chicago,’ said Illinois congressman Luis Gutierrez. ‘But the most important thing is they see America.’

Lines at Navy Pier in Chicago

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