Nearly 2 Million Undocumented Immigrants Eligible For Legal Status

New changes to President Obama's deferred action program could end up helping more than double what was initially expected.

A new rule went into effect Wednesday expanding the requirements for the Obama Administration's deferred action program.

Now people under 30 years old who did not graduate high school or get a G.E.D. are eligible for temporary legal status.

Children under 15 years old are also eligible, but only if they face immediate deportation.
While this is good news for many, it does not guarantee that all will be eligible.

In two weeks, Itzel Guillen will begin her freshman year at San Diego State University.  After years of living in fear of deportation, tomorrow couldn't come soon enough.

“As soon as one gets caught, it's devastating for a whole family,” said Guillen.

The 18-year-old is just one of nearly 1.8 million undocumented immigrants nationwide expected to benefit from what's being called "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," a program announced in June by the Department of Homeland Security.

"I came here on the back seat of a car. My mom and her sisters did it the hard way,” explained Guillen.

Like Itzel the program applies to those who were brought to the United States:
  - When they were under 16
  - Have resided in the U.S. for at least 5 years 
  - Are in school, graduated or honorably discharged from the military
  - Don't have felony or serious misdemeanor convictions
  - Are 30 years old or younger

If they qualify and pay $465.00, they can defer their deportation for at least two years.

But Immigration Attorney Jacob Saposchnick says people should think twice before they rush to file.

"If you miss something on the form, if you don't do it correctly that's it, it's over. There's no way to appeal it,” cautioned Saposchnick, a San Diego Immigration Attorney.

To Itzel, it is worth the risk. She hopes to get a job as a teacher's aide. But more importantly to get her college education and make her family proud.

“We're here just to live happily [and] safe and we've left from an environment that didn't let us live like that.”

The government will begin accepting applications online tomorrow. Applicants have 90 days to file. Click here for more application information.

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