Leaders, Undocumented Immigrants Discuss Implications Of Policy Changes

Tuesday, July 3rd 2012, 9:55 pm
By: News On 6

Two weeks after the President announced big changes to U.S. immigration policy, local undocumented immigrants have a lot of questions.

The Department of Homeland Security will stop deporting some illegal immigrants, and people affected by those changes are turning to public forums in Tulsa for answers.

The President made the immigration announcement on June 15, but issued a 60-day waiting period before it takes effect.

A small roundtable discussion has huge implications for undocumented immigrants in our area.

Many young people, like David, fall into the criteria for President Obama's immigration announcement.

"You get used to life here. You become part of this country. You feel American, you become American and you just live a happy life here," David said.

But David is not an American citizen. He came here from Mexico with his parents when he was 6.

Now 19, he wants to go into the medical field and is enrolled at a local college.

He's kept his immigration secret from almost everyone.

"It's only those really close friends that you tell, because some might not be able to handle the truth," David said.

Advocates are hoping more people like David will come forward under the temporary immigration change.

The Department of Homeland Security will waive deportation for two years if immigrants are under the age of 30, don't have a criminal history, and came to this country as children.

They also must be in school, have a high school diploma, or serve in the military.

Once the federal government gets the application process ready, it will also grant those people work permits.

"Children who came to the United States by no choice of their own ought to be able to remain here without fear of deportation," said Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma."They could be deported to a country they've never been to and a culture they know nothing about."

David is excited to apply.

"Everybody deserves a chance to be free and to be part of this country, to contribute to this country," David said. "We're not trying to destroy it, we're trying to help build it up."

This new initiative affects around 800,000 people.

You can find answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the immigration change here.