DREAM Relief Day | Immigrant youth apply to improve legal status - FOX 32 News Chicago

Immigrant youth apply to improve legal status on Dream Relief Day

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Thousands of Chicago's immigrant youth lined up at Navy Pier Wednesday to be the first to get temporary relief from law enforcement pressure.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights hosted Dream Relief Day, helping undocumented students apply for deferred action, which is part of President Obama's immigration initiative. 

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin helped inspire the Dream Act effort.

"My mother was an immigrant to this country; she was a dreamer in her day years ago. Now, her son is a United States Senatory today. This is my story, this is my family's story, this is America's story."

For Deferred Action requirements and more information: DreamRelief.org

Applicants would be eligible for a six-year conditional citizenship, which requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service.

Workshops were offered in the Grand Ballroom regarding ways to make the best of their applications, as well as outline requirements to apply. Complete applications are submitted to the Dept. of Homeland Security.

Dream Relief Day provides "two year" deportation relief for young undocumented immigrants that meet certain criteria.

To apply for a work permit, applicants must meet several criteria, including going to school and having no criminal record. You must also be under 30 years old, have been in the country before you were 16, and lived here for the past five years continuously.

The opportunity is a relief for many, including student Navely Manzano.

"I don't have to hide anymore. I don't have to tell people that I was born in some random state. I don't have to tell people that I was born in some random hospital that I don't remember the name of. I can just be honest with them and feel totally at home."

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights told FOX Chicago News that people started lining up Tuesday around 5 p.m., and they estimated that over 13,000 people showed up. 9,000 people had preregistered.

"We didn't think that everyone that preregistered would come and then obviously 13,000 people or somewhere in that neighborhood showed up. So, we weren't expecting this volume, but we're glad that we're able to help out," said Executive Officer Lawrence Benito.

Applicants would even be able to apply for driver's licenses or state identification cards in some states. These forms of identification carry great meaning for these young people, one young woman told FOX Chicago News.

Mayor Emanuel, Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Luis Gutierrez were at Navy Pier to talk about making Chicago and immigrant friendly city.

"This is a leap of faith. This is a leap of faith by these young people to believe that when we say that this is the law, follow the law and the law will be on your side," Durbin said.

Organizers said those in line are from all over the Chicago area, but also from as far away as New York. The line stretched from Lake Shore Drive near Illinois, across the field, to the lakefront in the 9 a.m. hour Wednesday.

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