Sean Hannity, John Boehner say GOP should tackle immigration reform

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

By  | The Ticket – 3 hrs ago

Entire Article

Well, that was fast.

Just two days after President Barack Obama sailed to re-election over Mitt Romney, boosted by more than 70 percent of the Latino vote, some Republicans are striking a new tone on illegal immigration.

Conservative Fox News and radio host Sean Hannity said Thursday that his views on immigration have “evolved.” Hannity continued:

We’ve gotta get rid of the immigration issue altogether. It’s simple for me to fix it. I think you control the border first, you create a pathway for those people that are here, you don’t say you gotta go home. And that is a position that I’ve evolved on. Because you know what—it just—it’s gotta be resolved. The majority of people here—if some people have criminal records you can send ’em home—but if people are here, law-abiding, participating, four years, their kids are born here … first secure the border, pathway to citizenship … then it’s done. But you can’t let the problem continue. It’s gotta stop.

Meanwhile, in an interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer, House Speaker John Boehner said he is “confident” the two parties can agree to a deal on immigration.

“This issue has been around far too long,” Boehner said. “A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”

Just two years ago, Boehner said it was worth considering amending the U.S. Constitution to end birthright citizenship, because he said it might discourage people from illegally crossing the border. Boehner was also opposed to President George W. Bush’s attempt to pass immigration reform.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who supports immigration reform, said on CBS on Friday that Republicans had sent “mixed messages” about immigration. “On the immigration issue, which turned out to be very important, and some issues about women, too, some mixed messages were sent,” she said.

The party has been searching for answers about why Mitt Romney lost what seemed like a very winnable election. Many within the party have pointed to the GOP’s demographics problem: Romney lost every group except for white voters, which is a shrinking portion of the electorate. Latinos this year made up 10 percent of all voters, according to the national exit poll, a share that will only grow each election. Like other groups, most Latino voters say they care most about jobs and the economy, but 35 percent of them listed immigration reform as their top issue in a poll conducted by Latino Decisions.

Latino voter and advocacy groups have said they expect both Obama and congressional Republicans to work together to pass immigration reform in 2013.

Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, told reporters that Latino voters had sent a message to Obama. “We expect leadership on comprehensive immigration reform in 2013,” he said. “To both sides we say: ‘No more excuses.'”


Immigration reformers see Obama win, Hispanic turnout as ‘game-changer’

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment
By Mike Lillis – 11/07/12 05:04 PM ET

An outpouring of support from Hispanic voters helped to usher President Obama to a resounding reelection win Tuesday, and immigration reformers say those dynamics have set the stage for a bipartisan reform deal next year.

Conservatives in Congress have successfully killed efforts to pass immigration reforms over the last decade — even when a GOP president proposed them. But Obama’s dominance over Mitt Romney among Hispanic voters, advocates say, will force Republicans to accept some version of reform or risk losing national elections into the foreseeable future. 

“The Republican Party has to decide: Do they want to take this issue off the table? Or do they want to be a whites-only party that will make it impossible to compete?” Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, which advocates for immigration reform, said Wednesday.

Sharry predicted that immigration reform “will quickly become the top legislative priority after fiscal and budget issues” next year.

“The election was a game-changer,” he said, “and the Republicans will see coming to the table as a political imperative.”

Rep. Luis Gutierrez delivered a similar message in the wake of the election. Warning that that “the road to the White House goes through Latino neighborhoods,” the Illinois Democrat said Romney’s shift to the right on immigration during the GOP primaries buried his chances of winning the presidency.

“Mitt Romney and the Republicans drank the anti-immigrant Kool-Aid during the primaries,” he said Wednesday in a statement, “and they never recovered.”

But Gutierrez, who’s lashed out at Obama for not pushing harder for immigration reform in his first term, also challenged the president to make it a top priority of his second.

“Let’s be clear,” he said, “the president and Democrats cannot be satisfied that the other party is repulsive to most Latino voters and lots of other voters as well.

“Democrats must actively attract voters to their positions on jobs, health care, same-sex equality, equal rights, and, especially with Latino voters, immigration reform.”

Gutierrez is urging Obama to “call Republicans and Democrats to the White House who want to chart a reasonable course forward on immigration and begin the process of delivering.”

There’s some evidence that the president intends to do just that.

In an interview with Iowa’s Des Moines Register just two weeks ago, Obama said he was “confident” he could enact bipartisan immigration reforms in his second term.

“The second thing I’m confident we’ll get done next year is immigration reform. And since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt,” Obama said during an off-the-record interview that later became public. “Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community. And this is a relatively new phenomenon.”

The president seems to have hit the nail on the head. Exit polls indicated that Hispanic voters favored Obama this year by a whopping 40 points, 69 percent to 29 percent — an increase of 4 points over his advantage among the demographic four years ago. And while white turnout fell this year as a percentage of total voters, Hispanic turnout ticked up, from 9 to 10 percent.

The changing demographics have prompted a number of prominent conservatives — including former President George W. Bush, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — to warn Republicans to soften their hard line on immigration or risk a long-term backlash from Latino voters at the polls each cycle.

It’s advice that Republican congressional leaders have so far ignored. Indeed, when President Bush championed comprehensive immigration reforms in 2007, it was shot down by conservative Republicans who opposed the inclusion of a pathway to legalization for those in the country illegally — a notion critics call “amnesty.”

More recently, a filibuster by Senate Republicans killed the House-passed DREAM Act, which would provide legal status to high-achieving illegal immigrant students brought to the country as children.

During the GOP primary, Romney vowed to veto the DREAM Act and promoted tougher enforcement of illegal immigrants, a move designed to distinguish himself from several of his opponents — notably former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who advocated more leniency.

After the primaries, Romney adopted a more centrist immigration position, and his campaign adopted a 38 percent target for Hispanic voters. But advocates say the damage was done.

“Romney’s lurch to the right really destroyed his chances,” Sharry said. “He made a tactical decision that was terrible strategy. It branded him with the fastest-growing group of voters as anti-immigrant and anti-Latino.

“If he’d won 38 percent of the Latino vote,” Sharry added, “he’d be president.”


Obama Promises Immigration Reform if Re-Elected, According to Iowa Paper

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, State and Local Immigration Rules Leave a comment

October 24, 2012

Washington –  In an interview with the Des Moines Register, U.S. President Barack Obama said that if he wins the election in two weeks it will largely be thanks to his strong lead among Latino voters.

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/10/24/obama-promises-immigration-reform-if-re-elected-according-to-iowa-paper/#ixzz2AK5xFMID


Napolitano says 200K illegal immigrants have applied for deferred deportation

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Deportation, Immigration Law Leave a comment
By Jordy Yager – 10/24/12 05:15 PM ET

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Wednesday that more than 3,000 young illegal immigrants are applying for deferred deportation every day under the administration’s new immigration policy.

About 200,000 young people in the country illegally have applied to defer their deportation for at least two years and get a temporary work permit since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began accepting applications under the new rules two months ago, according to Napolitano.

For more…..


Out of the shadows A first step to make young illegal immigrants welcome

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends Leave a comment

Aug 25th 2012 | ATLANTA AND CHICAGO | from the print edition

Economist

LISA OHMAN was brought up in Macon, Georgia, and speaks with a gentle southern accent. She graduated from Wesleyan College, a women’s university in Macon, with majors in biology and chemistry, and has just taken her medical-school entrance exams. Teresa Lee was brought up in Chicago; at the tender age of 17 she played piano with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and she is now working towards a doctorate in music. Yet both are illegal immigrants. Ms Ohman’s parents brought her to America from Sweden when she was ten; Ms Lee’s brought her from Brazil when she was two.

Both faced the prospect of being forced to return to the countries they were born in—their “native” countries in name only. But on August 15th they and more than 1m others like them were granted a small but welcome measure of relief. From that day, immigrants under the age of 30 without criminal records who came to America before they were 16 years old, have lived in America continuously for at least five years, are enrolled in or have graduated from school or university or have been honourably discharged from military service, were allowed to apply for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA).

DACA confers neither citizenship nor permanent-resident status. It is instead, in essence, a promise from the government not to deport an immigrant for two years. Applying costs $465, and acceptance can be renewed every two years. Successful applicants will receive a Social Security number and will be eligible to work legally. This means their wages will be taxed; but, because they are not citizens, they will not be eligible to receive the benefits that their taxes help to finance.

DACA has its roots in the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, a bill first introduced in Congress 11 years ago. The DREAM Act would have conferred permanent-resident status on roughly the same set of immigrants that DACA covers. It died in committee in 2002. Four years later it passed the Senate as part of the far more expansive Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, but died in conference. In 2010 it narrowly passed the House, but was blocked by a Republican filibuster in the Senate. Hence DACA, which Barack Obama’s homeland-security secretary delicately termed an “exercise of prosecutorial discretion”.

The right cried foul. House Republicans proposed measures to stop Mr Obama’s order from being enforced. Twenty Republican senators (including one supporter of the 2006 immigration bill and two backers of the 2001 DREAM Act) wrote to the president, accusing him of “an inappropriate use of executive power” and worrying about the effects of unleashing “an untold number of illegal immigrants” into the workforce when jobs are scarce.

In fact, many eligible immigrants are already in the workforce. Others are students. Doubtless there are some budding entrepreneurs as well: as Mitt Romney acknowledges, legal immigrants are disproportionately represented among patent applicants, and among those who start and head successful tech companies. And their numbers are not quite untold: the Obama administration estimated there were 800,000 eligible applicants, though there may be as many as 1.7m.

Not all will apply, of course. Some still worry about the risk of exposure: the DACA forms warn that applications may be denied for any reason, and the government’s decision is final. Yet the enthusiasm on display last week suggests that DACA may prove immensely popular. As Ms Lee explained at a rally in Chicago on August 15th, it is “a chance for us…to give back to the country we love and call home.”


Paperwork hitch landed this immigrant in ‘hell on Earth’

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Interior Enforcement, Legislative Reform Leave a comment
By Lisa Riordan Seville and Hannah Rappleye, NBC News

When Floyd Herbert Abdul, a native of Zimbabwe living legally in the United States, was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Nov. 24, 2006, he was plunged into a bureaucratic system that he describes as “hell on Earth.”

“They do so much to literally dehumanize you,” he said. “If you’re not strong mentally, then you lose it.”

The reason for Abdul’s nightmare: He never received a letter informing him of an upcoming immigration hearing because the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, sent the letter to an outdated address.

As a result, Abdul, a political opponent of Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe who is seeking political asylum in the U.S., spent over four months in detention, first in Atlanta, then at the Etowah County Detention Center in northeast Alabama. Etowah, a jail that also holds county inmates, has for years concerned human rights activists. They say the quality and quantity of food, lack of access to the outdoors and jail-like conditions are inappropriate for immigrant detention, which is not designed as punishment.

MORE


Undocumented immigrants confront author of strict immigration laws

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, State and Local Immigration Rules Leave a comment
Bob Miller/for NBC News

Isela Meraz and Fernando Lopez lead a group of undocumented Hispanics in protest against anti-immigration laws during a briefing on the civil rights effects of state immigration law held by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Birmingham, Ala.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Protesters opposed to strict state-level immigration laws confronted one of the key writers of such legislation as he testified at a U.S. Department of Justice civil rights hearing here on Friday.

Holding up small banners with the words “undocumented” on them, four self-proclaimed undocumented immigrants stood up one at a time to denounce the laws, interrupting the testimony being given by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped author the measures in Alabama and Arizona.

Kobach, who advised those states before being elected to statewide office in Kansas, and others were invited to speak about the impact of such laws by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent commission of the federal government.

But the session was interrupted by protests.

“I have received a lot of discrimination. I am Maria Huerta, undocumented and without fear. I have no fear! You have to respect our rights. They are civil rights,” the 65-year-old woman, originally from Mexico, cried out just before throwing the hearing agenda on the floor. “I leave it there. Keep it. You don’t know how to respect human suffering.”

Huerta is among a group of undocumented immigrants traveling across the country in a caravan to highlight their situation and those of others still living in the shadows. Before landing in Alabama, the ragtag caravan made stops in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Their ultimate goal is the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., where they intend to press their concerns.

Moments before Huerta spoke, another group of five women stood up and turned their backs on the commission as Kobach began his testimony. They wore shirts that spelled out “stop hate.”

Bob Miller / for NBC News

Secretary of State Kris Kobach of Kansas addresses the commission during a briefing on civil rights effects of state immigration laws held by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Birmingham, Alabama on August 17, 2012.

Emotions ran high later when protesters called Kobach, a “liar,” with Mayra Rangle, 32, telling commissioners: “It’s a shame you invited him and him,” as she pointed to those invited to speak.

After the hearing, Kobach said the protesters had the right to voice their opinions, but the interruptions were disrespectful.

“It’s inherently rude and it disrespects the American process of deliberation and careful policy making,” he said. “It’s really unfortunate when one side in a debate results to personal insults instead of bringing information and making a coherent point.”

When asked why he didn’t respond to them when challenged, he said: “I was there to respond to the panel not the protesters.”

During the protest, the civil rights commissioners argued about the presence of the demonstrators, with Commissioner Todd Gaziano, a Heritage Foundation fellow, denouncing the lack of security and Commissioner Michael Yaki, of Michael Yaki Consulting, noting the demonstrators were acting in the form of non-violent protest.

Bob Miller/for NBC News

Civil Rights commissioner Michael Yaki addresses a crowd of mostly undocumented immigrants in downtown Birmingham, Ala.

Gerardo Torres, 41, a Mexican who lives in Phoenix, said after the hearing that those who wrote the immigration laws were out of touch.

“I don’t think they have ever been in contact with regular people,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think they just go back to their gated community. … They are not in touch with reality.”


Benefits of Deferred Action – Thoughts from the week of August 15, 2012

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

On the afternoon of June 15, 2012, we had heard a very exciting announcement. On June 16, 2012, I had my 31st birthday which is great because that is the age cut off for deferred action so I can remember that date/age easily.  We then tried to get ready for USCIS’s program, 60 days later. We started pre-screening potential clients and telling them to start collecting documents to prove entry, continuous residence, no criminal history, etc.

Now that the forms were provided on August 14th and the program started on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, the firm has been very busy, like most other immigration firms.  But what I am the most excited about, is that often in these consultations, I find that people qualify for consular processing/waivers and would benefit from the provisional waiver rule which has been promised to be available by the end of 2012 or qualify for marriage-based adjustment and could have their green card in about 3 months if they just applied in country.

I explain to potential clients that Deferred Action is NOT a legal status and should not be PLAN A for a path to legal permanent residency or citizenship. In fact, it isn’t guaranteed and if they obtain it, it is only good for 2 years. It reminds me a lot of Temporary Protected Status, no legal status but work authorization and renewed every few years.

After lots of consultations this week, I am most grateful because it is making people really think about their status and options and hopefully to talk to a qualifed immigration attorney about their case in detail.

We are holding Skype and phone consultations every day of the week right now from 7am-1pm CST. We will have in person consultations starting September 10th, most M-F 9am-5pm.  Before a consultation, a potential client schedules a time, pays the $50 fee online, completes our Deferred Action intake form on our Consultation page, and then faxes or emails any criminal record or key document to their case in advance so I can review it in conjunction with their intake form answers and the consultation.

If a potential client wants to hire us, we send a contract via email for their review with payment information and then when we receive the payment and signed contract, we send the client a list of documents and questionnaire.

We are grateful that the estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million people in the US may qualify for work authorization and peace of mind from immigration detention.  We do hope that people take this time to address what many are afraid to talk or think about, their immigration status.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Ruby L. Powers

Houston Immigration Attorney


Early filing for Obama’s deferred action program smart, but filing correctly is smarter Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/early-filing-obama-deferred-action-program-smart-filing-correctly-smarter-article-1.1135980#ixzz23c4DWUiM

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends Leave a comment
PUBLISHED: WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2012, 4:00 AM
UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2012, 4:00 AM

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/early-filing-obama-deferred-action-program-smart-filing-correctly-smarter-article-1.1135980?pgno=1#ixzz23c4ToZfG

The Obama deferred action program for undocumented youth is on. Some Dreamers want to submit their applications as soon as possible. Filing early makes sense, but it’s better to do it right than to file it early. Friday, I’ll provide more information about the process. Meanwhile, you can get more information at uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals.

If you qualify for what U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services calls Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, get to work on your application. Don’t miss out on getting two-years legal status and employment authorization.

Q. I am a U.S. citizen, but my fiancé is undocumented. He came here illegally as a child. Should he apply for the Obama deferred action program? My fiancé and I are planning to get married soon. We want to get him his green card, but meanwhile we need your advice about whether he should try to get deferred action.

Orem, Utah

A. Your fiancé should get deferred action status. Doing so could make it easier for him to get permanent residence.

First, with deferred action, hell get employment authorization. If he starts working, that may help you prove that he won’t become a “public charge,” a person who needs government cash assistance.

More important, if your fiancé can get USCIS travel permission, called “advanced parole,” he will then qualify to adjust status — to interview for permanent residence in the United States. USCIS says that individuals with deferred action status can get advance parole only for humanitarian, business or educational reasons. It’s too early to tell how strict USCIS will be in applying these rules.

Finally, by working with USCIS permission, your fiancé will increase his ties to the United States. That will help if he needs to travel abroad to get him an immigrant visa. Since he has been here so long unlawfully, he’ll need a USCIS waiver, a form of forgiveness, once he leaves the United States without advanced parole. President Obama has promised that spouses of U.S. citizens needing an “unlawful presence” waiver will be able to apply for that waiver before leaving the United States. That process should be in place by the end of this year. By working, your fiancé’s improves his chances to get the waiver.

Q. Do high school students who have yet to receive their diploma qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals? These students meet all other DACA requirements.

Name withheld, Gilroy, Calif.

A. Yes, though they must be at least age 15 to apply. If the students are not yet age 15, they may apply once they reach that age. An exception is for young people already in removal (deportation) proceedings. They qualify for deferred action before turning 15.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/early-filing-obama-deferred-action-program-smart-filing-correctly-smarter-article-1.1135980#ixzz23c4McA3v


Chasing a ‘dream’: Immigrant youth seek legal status

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends Leave a comment

Article 

By Miranda Leitsinger, NBC News

Yelky Perez knows exactly where she will be at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday: On the government’s immigration services website, scouring for the application that could let her pursue her dream career as a surgeon and stay in the U.S. legally.

Perez, who said she illegally entered the country from the Dominican Republic at 13 to reunite with her family, will join hundreds of thousands of other young adults as the Obama administration launches an initiative that will prevent deportation temporarily for those who qualify. She has already collected the documents she believes she’ll need, including debit card receipts to show she was in the U.S. the day that the policy was announced, which is one of the requirements.

“I want to make sure that my application is one of the first ones going in because, as they said, the applications will be processed in the order they are received … I want to make sure mine is one of the first ones that gets there,” said Perez, 20, with an enthusiastic chuckle.

The “deferred action” program, outlined in a government memorandum in mid-June, will give certain young illegal immigrants two-year work permits, allowing them to stay in the country and emerge from the underground economy. Some 937,000 people brought here as children might immediately qualify, according to a recent study. Another 426,000 aged 15 and under could, too, if the program remains in place. The states with the highest number of likely recipients are California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer responds to President Obama’s immigration policy announcement in mid-June.

The initiative appears to be a bid on President Obama’s part to provide temporary relief to those eligible for the Dream Act, legislation aimed at those brought to the U.S. as children that has stalled in Congress. The program has been cautiously welcomed by advocates as a first step toward immigration reform, but criticized by others as an amnesty that could become permanent.

“This is the kind of thing Congress is supposed to decide and yet what the White House has done is unilaterally implement its own amnesty program,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank. “The idea that this is just a temporary halt in deportation and what not is complete baloney. These people are all going to get employment authorization documents, work cards and social security numbers, and supposedly it’s for only two years.

“… we have other temporary immigration programs and what we’ve learned from that is there is nothing as permanent as a temporary immigrant. Anybody who actually gets this program is here for good, period,” he added.

Immigrants must meet certain criteria to qualify, including: arrival in the U.S. under the age of 16; no older than 30 today and no younger than 15; currently enrolled in school, graduated high school or served in the military; have been in the country for five continuous years; and have a clean criminal record.

Courtesy of Yelky Perez.

Yelky Perez, 20, in Albany for an immigration reform rally in 2012.

At the New York Immigration Coalition, advocates have been deluged with calls from those who could potentially qualify.

“We do see this policy as a substantial step forward towards immigration reform,” said Jacqueline Esposito, the coalition’s director of immigration advocacy. “We recognize that this particular relief is limited in nature, but we believe it’s going to build momentum to more lasting reform.”

Obama administration won’t seek deportation of young illegal immigrants
Skepticism, joy among illegal immigrants over Obama decision
First Read: Obama leads big with Latinos
Immigration order poses dilemma for those eligible 

Perez, a college graduate who earns $300 for her 45-hour work weeks at an under-the-table job at a publishing firm helping to edit immigration books, hopes to resume her studies to become a surgeon. She dropped her pre-med program in college because she decided it would be too hard to practice medicine in the U.S. because of her status.

“I actually was ready to kind of just plan my life with my $300 pay a week,” she said. But the promise of deferred action has her mulling a year-long course to prepare for medical school. “Maybe I can … become a surgeon, like I wanted to do originally.”

There are risks with coming forward, however, Esposito said.

President Obama announces in mid-June that the Department of Homeland Security will no longer seek the deportation of many young illegal immigrants.

“We do advise people that deferred action is temporary … the program could be ended at any time,” she said. “It’s not a legislative solution. It’s simply an administrative reform.”

Perez speaks confidently about what she has accomplished since she coming here in 2005: She quickly learned English in New York after her arrival and graduated as valedictorian of her high school class at 16; she completed college with the highest GPA in her major of public affairs (her studies were paid for by a benefactor).

But there have also been lows, too. Though Perez said she knew she was coming illegally, she had no idea the challenges she would face: an inability to pick up mail in one’s name at the post office, how hard it can be to get paid a decent wage, and the difficulty of obtaining a government-issued identification.

She also can’t go to the Dominican Republic to see her extended family, and the fear of deportation looms constantly.

“It’s been quite an experience. I did sometimes kind of feel like, ‘Oh, why me?’ and I would get depressed and cry. I used to cry a lot. Not anymore,” she said. “I kind of really have turned to see things a little more in a positive lens … I decided I needed to stop thinking about it, just look at the things I was able to do within my limitations, which were plenty.”

Perez’s father, Julio, said he brought Yelky and her brother, now 23, to the U.S. with hopes of a better education and a better future (his oldest daughter came on a humanitarian visa; his common-law wife is also from the Dominican Republic and doesn’t have legal status, Perez said).

“I never thought it would take so long for her and that it would be such a difficult path,” said Julio, who only wanted to be identified by his first name since he is in the country illegally and fears repercussions.

He alerted his daughter to the administration’s announcement of the program on June 15.

“I think it was one of the happiest days of my life. I can die tomorrow and I can die satisfied” knowing that my decision to bring her here won’t prevent her from achieving her dreams, he said, speaking in Spanish. “For me, Yelky is everything. It was very exciting when I got that news, a joy overtook me.”

Esposito, of the immigration coalition, said that since the program doesn’t confer lawful immigration status, successful applicants can’t help their parents with their own status, making the new policy “bittersweet.”

Perez, who has married a U.S. citizen (though that won’t help her immigration status for the time being, since she entered the country illegally), said she is concerned about exposing her parents to immigration authorities in the application process.

“It’s very unclear and I am a little skeptical,” she said of the potential outing of her parents. “But I just don’t have much of a choice … this is an opportunity that I have to take advantage of now.”

NBC News’ Natalia Jimenez contributed to this report.


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