Under President Obama’s new immigration rule, more than four million undocumented immigrants will qualify for deferred deportation, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. His new rule will shield more than 3.5 million undocumented adults who have lived here for at least five years and have U.S. born children or children who hold green cards, against deportation. More than 80 percent of these adults have children below age 18.
Though the President’s actions will grant legal status to the undocumented parents, their children would be the major beneficiaries as they can live here with their parents. Jefferson is one such 13 year old child whose parents are undocumented. His parents can apply for deferred action status under the President’s Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, as he is a U.S. citizen. Jefferson was born in the U.S. and his parents have lived here for many years.
He told the Washington Post that he did not understand what his parents’ status was until last year. He said that his mother did not like to go anywhere and got nervous when she had to drive far. He said that they are limited in their jobs and couldn’t go to places like Disneyland as it was risky. His parents told him that they were undocumented and that they were not legal citizens of the country, when he asked them why they did not like to go anywhere and why was it risky. His parents are from Central America and they have been living in the U.S. for 20 years. His mother told him that they were poor and were unable to come here legally and so they illegally got into the U.S. They had come here to get a better life.
Jefferson said that he wants to help his parents obtain legal status. He said that he wants to make money once he completes college and hire a lawyer with whose help he can help his parents obtain legal status. His friends do not know about his parents’ status and he does not know any children in his situation. He has two siblings who do not know about his parents’ situation and they are too young to understand what it means to be an undocumented immigrant.
He said that he and his parents were excited when President Obama announced his immigration reform plan as it will help his parents live here legally. Though it is only a temporary relief, he and his parents are happy and they no more need to get nervous to drive far or confine themselves in their homes. He said that the President’s action has brought happiness.
There are millions of adults in the U.S. who have children born here or who hold legal resident status. They lead their lives with fear as their children will end up in foster care if they are removed from the country. Similar to Jefferson’s parents, the President’s actions will benefit a lot of immigrants. Once they apply for temporary legal status and receive deferred action status, they will be able to live legally with their children for three years. This status is renewable and at the end of the three year period then can renew deferred action and stay back in the country for another three years.