Aug 15, 2012 Comments Off Pat Dollard
(NBC CHICAGO) The turnout for Wednesday’s Dream Relief workshop in Chicago was so strong that organizers began turning people away.
The line of undocumented students wrapped around Navy Pier and at one point across the Chicago River to apply for deferred action to allow them, at least in the short-term, not to worry about deportation. As many as 50,000 lined up for the program, according to estimates.
Following a major immigration policy change about two months ago, the Dream Relief workshop helps children who were illegally brought into the United States apply for a work permit and even a driver’s license.
Five thousand people initially signed up for the workshop, and as the 9 a.m. start time came and went, the crowds kept filing toward the lake. Organizers said they would be able to provide full services for 1,500 people today and partial services to another 6,000. The new policy announced by President Barack Obama this summer took effect Wednesday and will allow more than 75,000 young undocumented immigrants in Illinois and 1.7 million across the country the temporary right to live and work openly in the United States.
“It’s an opportunity that we’ve been waiting for basically for a really long time,” said applicant Edalid Miranda, “and finally it’s here.”
The program is open to applicants ages 15 to 31 who came to the country before they were 16 years old and have lived in the U.S. for the past five years.
Registrants were required to bring a proof of identity, as well as documentation of enrollment in school or honorable discharge from the Armed Forces. Registrants must not have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or multiple misdemeanor offenses. Full details and restrictions are listed at dreamrelief.org.
“A lot of dreams are going to be accomplished by this,” said Christian Lopez.
Workshops will be held each month through January, and because of the huge turnout, more workshops could be added.