Immigration Program Gives Young Latinos Hope

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The Obama administration opened the door, Wednesday, for undocumented immigrants under age 30 to get a driver's license and apply for work and school.

The controversial federal program also gives these 1.7 million young immigrants a two-year reprieve from the threat of deportation.

Many Republican lawmakers are critical of the protection, saying President Barack Obama circumvented Congress to boost his standing with the crucial Latino voting bloc.

And even some young immigrants like Daniel Gonzales say the president went too far.

"According to our Constitution, our president can't just declare [a] law. That's a step away from dictatorship," he said.

"But again, I'm not going to lie and say that because it was done that way I'm not happy about it," Gonzales continued. "I'm overjoyed that it was done. I just don't agree with the way it was done."

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, agreed Obama should have worked with lawmakers.

"For someone who believes in the process of engaging Congress rather than exercising executive power by executive fiat, this is a bit concerning," Rodriguez said. "Nevertheless, I understand that it's a great benefit for millions of kids who shouldn't be suffering for the sins of their parents."

Those who qualify for the shield must have arrived in the United States before age 16 and be 30 or younger now.

They also must have lived in the United States for at least five years and be in school or have graduated.

Despite not agreeing with how the president handled the situation, Gonzales now hopes to realize his dream of becoming a computer network administrator.

Marcela Villalobos, 22, came to the States with her mom when she was 14. With the program in place, she hopes to go to school to become a physical therapist. But she has her doubts.

"I'm still kind of cautious because they talk about this every year, every election because it benefits them," Villalobos explained. "So I'm still kind of cautious -- hoping, but cautious."

Hispanic churches like Iglesia el Calvario in Orlando, Fla., are gearing up, hoping to help their young people who qualify wade through all the paperwork.

"I think our young people see this as an opportunity to get one step closer to being here in this country in a legal status," Iglesia el Calvario Pastor Luis Ramos said.

For those who are eligible, the process is expected to take months and there is a $465 fee.

But for more than a million young people who have waited for this day -- most feel it's worth it.

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CBN News
Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

Heather Sells covers a variety of issues for CBN News ranging from immigration and religious liberty to human trafficking, privacy issues and food.

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