Eleven undocumented immigrants filed papers Wednesday to be granted "Dreamers" legal status — though none legally qualify — to pressure President Barack Obama to include an estimated 11.5 million illegals in any executive action to reduce deportations.
The applications were announced by Define American,
which along with the National Immigration Law Center, hopes the "diverse set of complex immigration cases" will win approval – and force the president's hand.
The applicants include Define American Founder, Jose Antonio Vargas, a former Washington Post reporter. "This morning, by submitting our applications, we created a line, a process," Vargas said, The Washington Times reported.
"Now it’s up to the Obama administration. The ball is in your court, Mr. President."
Those filing are aiming for tentative legal status, a work permit to allow them to get jobs, and potentially a number of state benefits such as in-state tuition and driver’s licenses, the Times noted.
The New York Times,
which first reported the application effort, noted Vargas is seeking a four-year deferral.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals currently applies to those who came to the country under the age of 16 and were under 31 as of June 15, 2012, and had been in the country continuously for five years. Some of those filing Wednesday arrived in the United States as children but went home for college and then returned, while others are parents of Dreamers, The Washington Times reported.
In a letter
to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, the group compared themselves to "pilgrims who arrived centuries before."
"[S]ome of us came here by choice, others by necessity, be it social, economic, or personal," the illegals wrote. "Out of desperation and borne out of sacrifice, many of us were sent here by our families. Then and now, we came across oceans, valleys, deserts, and rivers. Then and now, those of us who did not die on that journey want a better life. Over the past decades, we have been working, worshiping in churches, going to school, and contributing to the communities we call home. We love, fight for, and pledge allegiance to an America whose flag does not recognize us."
Obama said last month
he'd use his executive authority to expand deportation protections and make other fixes to the immigration system after the House failed to act on immigration reform.
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