Young illegal immigrants apply for deportation relief

August 15, 2012 2:43:32 PM PDT
After a lifetime of fearing deportation, being banned from working legally and fighting to stay in the country they grew up in, thousands and thousands of young, undocumented immigrants could get a reprieve today as the federal government begins accepting applications for two-year work permits.

Immigrants who are younger than 31 and were brought to the U.S. before their 16th birthdays are eligible for the permits, which will allow them to stay and work here legally for two years. According to the Migration Policy Institute, up to 1.76 million people could be eligible.

"That document is going to change my life forever," said Ramiro Luna, 29, who immigrated to Texas from Monterrey, Mexico, when he was 7 years old. "Everything is going to be different. I now feel welcome."

Thousands of young immigrants stood in lines that wrapped around immigration offices from Houston to Chicago today to apply for legal status on Wednesday.

To receive the deferred action permit, immigrants have to either be currently enrolled in school or have a high school diploma or GED. Honorably discharged veterans are also eligible to apply. Felons and people with more than three misdemeanors will not be given permits, according to the policy.