| Starting Wednesday, the offices of the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, or USCIS, will begin receiving applications from young undocumented immigrants. In June, President Obama announced that undocumented immigrants brought to the United States before the age of 16, currently under 30, who have been living in the United States continuously for five years and have never committed a crime, can apply for the program.
The Washington D.C.-based Immigration Policy Center estimates 1.3 million immediate and future potential beneficiaries in the country. In IPC's estimate, 226,700 live in Texas. That makes Texas the state with the second most beneficiaries, behind California.
Fifteen thousand of the qualified applicants living in the El Paso area will be able to apply for the deferred deportation program this week.
In June, President Obama said this of his decision:
Now, these are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they're friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants, and often have no idea that they're undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver's license or a college scholarship.
Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you've done everything right your entire life, studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class, only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak.
Iliana Holguin, executive director of the Catholic Church's El Paso Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, said the program was an important step but also an incomplete one.
I think it's definitely a step in the right direction and will provide tremendous benefits for young people who can't pursue a job right now, but unfortunately it's not a solution to the root of the problem. We need to have a way for these people to have lawful permanent resident status.