The federal government sowed seeds of hope yesterday as it began collecting applications for two-year work permits from tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants. But while the commencement of President Obama's Deferred Action program signals life altering progress for so many, eligibility comes with a price.
In addition to conforming to numerous stipulations, acceptable candidates are required to dole out an application fee of $465. Aware of the financial challenge this poses, one Houston nonprofit, Protectors of the Dream, announced on Tuesday its intention to award grants to cover the application fee for 10 to 25 lucky Houston, Texas undocumented applicants, according to ABC.
"This generation of young scholars and activists that has come to be knows as the Dream Act generation is amazing," Jacob Monty, a representative of the nonprofit, explains. "We are inspiring our business and professional community to lend the resources, skills, and vision to this cause to lobby for more profound immigration reform. We want to start by alleviating the burden of filing fees for Dreamers."
For candidate Michael Nazario, one of the estimated 1.5 million eligible residents, a permit would instill hope that he might one day realize his dream of fighting for his home nation -- the U.S.
"This is my country, my home. This is where I've grown," Nazario told ABC. "I want to serve my country."
While the Deferred Action program does not grant citizenship, it allows undocumented hopefuls who, among other stipulations, are under 31 years of age, have achieved a certain level of education, and lack a criminal record, to live and work lawfully in the U.S. for two years, according to WNYC.
"Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner," Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, explained in a report. "But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case."
While some suggest that the President may be utilizing the program as a means to regain the Latino vote, 21-year-old undocumented college student, Nicole, told MSNBC that the positive consequences of the policy greatly outweigh everything else.
"It may be a political game when it comes to the President, but for us it is really just our lives, and we are grateful for this relief from the administration."