NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Many young illegal immigrants in the Tri-State Area and across the country have filed paperwork Wednesday, the first day of a new federal program that allows those who meet certain requirements to avoid deportation and obtain a U.S. work permit.
City agencies are providing assistance to those looking to take advantage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reports from an immigration office in Long Island City
At the immigration office in Long Island City, crowds filed in to complete the paperwork, including one young woman who came from Peru when she was ten years old.
"All of us, we are all Americans we're not undocumented, we're not illegals, we're not committing any crime. We're just here studying trying to reach our goals," the woman told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.
The Obama administration announced in June it would stop deporting many illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The woman told Diamond this program should only be the tip of the iceberg.
"And we're not going to give up, we're going to continue fighting. We want the DREAM Act, we want immigration reform, we're not going to stop," she said.
"This is an historic day," Queens city councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told the crowd outside the LIC immigration office.
Many of the young people at the LIC office said this program has given them hope for the future.
1010 WINS' Stan Brooks reports from St. Mary's Church in Manhattan
"My dream is to go back to school first of all, help my mother," a man from Chile told Diamond.
The city also offered young immigrants assistance with the applications at St . Mary's Church on Grand Street. 1010 WINS' Stan Brooks spoke with a young woman who came from Ecuador when she was three years old.
"It means a lot to me. We're a lot of dreamers, we want to go to school, we want to have good jobs, be someone in life. And this is a really big opportunity and a lot of doors are opening for us," she told Brooks.
WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reports
A young woman who came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was four years old was at St. Mary's on Wednesday to fill out her paperwork. She said this program is the start of a new chapter for her.
"I thought I was always going to just not do anything with my life, just work in places where they pay you low, no benefits, nothing. I always thought my life was going to be like that. But with this, I think it's going to be way better and I guess I'll have a better future for me and my daughter," she told Brooks.
The new program also includes provisions for work permits that would be valid for two years without any limits on renewing those permits.
Applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program can be downloaded from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Applicants must be 30 or younger, pay a $465 fee and provide proof of identity and eligibility.
They must prove they arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16, have been here at least five years, and are in school, graduated or served in the military.
Nearly two million people nationwide are eligible for the program.
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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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