This week, young, undocumented immigrants nationwide have a chance to step out of the shadows.
Announced by President Obama in June, the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy is now in effect. It offering the group of immigrants a chance to avoid deportation—as long as they meet certain criteria.
In Austin, dozens made the trip to the Mexican Consulate for more information and to apply for passports—one of the documents which can be used as proof of identification.
Maria Serrano told YNN she first moved to the United States when she was nine months old. She says she graduated from Eastside Memorial high school and is now a student at Austin Community college. Her student status qualifies her to apply.
She says she has determination to become an American citizen.
"It's hard when people tell you, ‘You can't do that because you're not from here or you don't have this green card, and no and no and no,’” Serrano said. “And I say, 'I don't care, I'm going to get to where I'm at or where I want to be, no matter what.”
Deborah Alemu is an immigrant with legal status. She stands in support with as many as 30,000 young people in the Austin area who may qualify for Deferred Action.
"It is not a pathway to citizenship. It is not a pathway to amnesty. It is a way to give back to the community," Alemu said. “They are not in the shadows and they're able to stand out here and say, 'I'm undocumented and I am unafraid.''
Other criteria require the applicant to be under the age of 31, entered the U.S. before age 16, lived in the country for the last five years and to have a clean criminal record.
Applicants must submit $465 along with the application. The Department of Homeland Security will verify information. Those accepted could be allowed to stay and work in the U.S. for up to two years.
Click here for more information from the Department of Homeland Security.