August 15th marked the first day that young undocumented immigrants could apply for the new deportation waivers that would prevent them from being deported if they meet certain criteria. To be eligible, an undocumented immigrant must have been brought to the United States before age 16, have remained in the country for at least five years, is under the age of 30, have no criminal history and either have a high school diploma or served in the U.S. military.
Although the eligibility requirements seem tough, they didn't keep out the thousands of undocumented immigrants across the country who streamed into their local offices for registration. Once a waiver has been granted, it is valid for two years, at which point a person can reapply.
The new program, which was announced by President Obama earlier this summer, hopes to ease the situations of many young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children and have since become valuable members of U.S. society.
While many immigration advocates are in favor of the new program, they say more comprehensive immigration reform is still needed. The DREAM Act, one proposal from Democratic Senator Dick Durbin that would provide a path to permanent citizenship for certain undocumenteds, has passed in the House of Representatives, but has not earned enough votes yet to pass in the Senate.
The first 3:20 of this video chronicling the first day of the waiver at a center in Chicago, while the rest is a conversation with Brian Bennett of The Los Angeles Times.
"We have all been waiting for this, you know? I mean, it's not the DREAM Act, but it's something. The main thing is school, go to college, be somebody, help my family, my parents mainly." - Yusef Salazar, undocumented immigrant.
1. What is an undocumented immigrant?
2. What issue does immigration reform seek to solve?
3. What rights do citizens and legal immigrants receive that undocumented immigrants do not?
1. Should the U.S. grant some form of legal status to those who have come to or stayed in the country illegally? Why or why not?
2. Why is illegal immigration an important issue going into an election year?