A new program intended to shield young undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to apply for a work permit has now taken effect.
It's known as the "Deferred Action Policy," allowing certain individuals who meet specific guidelines, to request consideration of deferred action from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
It was signed into action by President Obama in June after the DREAM Act, a path to citizenship for undocumented young adults, failed to pass in congress.
It's modeled after the Dream Act, since it applies to young adults, but unlike the act, this is a policy, not a law, and it will last for 2 years.
Today in Grand Island, young undocumented immigrants wasted no time in filling out the applications, including 22 year old Melissa Sofyan, who came to Crete Nebraska 11 years ago.
Sofyan says the reason she's so excited about the policy, is because she wants to work, make her own money, and be independent. The 22 year old has finished 2 years of college. "I'm going for computer science and a minor in business," said Sofyan. She wants the opportunity to run her own business, and says she hopes it would be a possibility someday.
Elisa Guerrero of Kendall Law Office in Grand Island says she has been helping undocumented immigrants fill out the applications all week.
"They stop going to school because they can't afford to pay for higher education, but they are really smart, they have good grades, and with this opportunity I think we're going to have better citizens," said Guerrero, about the students she's been speaking with.
The opportunity to file, comes with a price take of $465 and specific guidelines:
There are those who say that policies like these take away from jobs for U.S. citizens, but applicants like Melissa say they've been here for so long, they have no other place to call home.
Gov. Dave Heineman spoke Friday about the new policy.
"President Obama's deferred action program to issue employment authorization documents to illegal immigrants does not make them legal citizens," said Gov. Heineman. "The state of Nebraska will continue its practice of not issuing driver's licenses, welfare benefits or other public benefits to illegal immigrants unless specifically authorized by Nebraska statute."
More information on www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals.
Story contributed on by Jordan Onwiler.