9OYS Immigration Watch
‘People are unafraid right now’: DREAMers apply for deportation relief
But their excitement is mixed with anxiety over criticism, unresolved issues
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Dozens of young adults have waited their lifetimes for a chance like this one. Sunday, they took it.
They are children of undocumented immigrants, eligible for the federal government's controversial deferred action program. With some help -- and feeling a mixture of excitement and anxiety -- they took a step closer to taking part.
“To be able to get a job here and not have to hide," 17-year-old Itzel Hernandez Camacho explained why she's applying. “To be able to do things the right way.”
Hernandez Camacho was born in Mexico, but says her parents brought her to Tucson when she was just two months old.
“I wasn't asked to be brought here,” the high school senior said. “I just want to be able to do what everybody else can do here.”
To do that, the DREAM Act-eligible teen spent months putting together a thick packet -- her application for deferred action. If approved, she would not face deportation for two years and have an opportunity to work.
Hernandez came to Rodeo Park in Tucson Sunday to have her application checked over by volunteer immigration attorneys like Claudia Arevalo.
“People are unafraid right now,” Arevalo said. “They're learning more about the law and the requirements.”
Arevalo has helped hundreds of eager applicants, but says their excitement is mixed with anxiety.
On their minds: statements like this one in August from Governor Jan Brewer, who called the program President Obama's "Backdoor Amnesty Plan”: "We will issue an employment authorization card to those people that apply, but they will not be entitled to a driver's license. Nor will they be entitled to any public benefits in response to the public overwhelmingly voting that no public benefits would be extended to illegal aliens in the state of Arizona."
“Once they have the work permit, what are they going to do?” Arevalo asked. “How are they going to transport each other to the school, move around and things like that?”
Another concern: the program is temporary.
9 On Your Side reporter Kevin Keen asked Arevalo, “Do a lot of people ask what happens after two years because this is a two-year program?” “Yes, they do ask that question,” Arevalo answered. “It's a very common question. 'What is going to happen to me?'”
Keen asked Hernandez Camacho, “Do you worry about -- do you wonder about what happens after those two years?” “I do because I really don't know what I'm going to do,” she answered.
Many hope for an extension of the program or for a permanent solution -- like the DREAM Act -- from the federal government or Congress.
The South Side Business Coalition, Tucson City Councilwoman Regina Romero and 105.3 FM La Poderosa sponsored the event, which was also a fundraiser to help young people pay the $465 fee to apply for deferred action. Organizers don't know how much they raised just yet.