Some undocumented young people in Georgia remain skeptical about an order issued by Pres. Obama last week that could spare them from deportation. They say the government has reneged on similar reprieves in the past.
Under the order, those eligible to apply for a stay from deportation would be people 30 and under, who don't have a criminal record and who entered the U.S. before turning 16.
The deferred status would allow them to apply for work permits and drivers’ licenses.
But some who are eligible may not apply immediately.
Keish Kim, a 20-year-old undocumented Roswell resident, says the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that's known as ICE issued a similar order last year.
“We’ve seen so many deportations in different cases that we learned through the years we cannot trust the local ICE or immigrant law enforcement to follow the federal policies and mandates," she said in an interview. "That’s what we learned in reality.”
Some also say that if Obama loses the November election, the new President could rescind the order.
Most immigration advocates agree that the policy is a step in the right direction. But it doesn't legalize the estimated 800,000 young people in the U.S. who will be covered by the order.
Jessica Colotl is an undocumented paralegal living in Atlanta. She says Obama’s order helps in the short-term but doesn’t provide a path to citizenship for the undocumented youth.
“I think the only answer is when Congress really steps up and makes that path available for all of the students who are trying to contribute to this country that we’ve called home for so many years,” she said.
Specifically, that would entail Congress passing the so-called “DREAM Act,” which would allow undocumented students to apply for citizenship.
Colotl made news in 2010 when she was arrested for driving without a license in an Atlanta suburb. She was released and now has a temporary work permit. She says she hopes to apply for the deferred status when the permit expires next year.
Experts estimate a majority of Georgia’s 400,000 undocumented residents may be eligible to apply for the deferred status.