Congressman Luis Gutierrez and pro-immigrant groups announced Tuesday a new Web site and a workshop in Chicago to help undocumented youths take advantage of the new policy to defer deportations.
"This is the most important development in two decades for undocumented immigrants and we intend to get as many young people as are eligible signed up and in the system," said the Democratic lawmaker said.
He told a press conference that August 15 will be the beginning of a process that will bring freedom to "11 million undocumented people in the United States," a reference to the day that immigration authorities will start accepting applications.
The Illinois legislator noted that when President Barack Obama announced on June 15 that he would protect the so-called "dreamers" - young undocumented immigrants who would benefit from the long-stalled DREAM Act - a period of 60 days was established for enacting the executive order.
Gutierrez said that together with Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), he will go on a nationwide campaign with ads and information in Spanish to help undocumented youths take advantage of this opportunity to be accepted with dignity and respect.
The registration will be the start of a process that could take two years, but once begun it will be "irreversible," he said.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights will organize on Aug. 15, dubbed DREAM Relief Day, a "mega-workshop" in Chicago to help thousands of young people register and apply for work permits.
Illinois is estimated to have some 75,000 people who could benefit from the "deferred action" announced by the government.
The ICIRR is training hundreds of volunteers to help young people complete their applications and both Gutierrez and Durbin plan to take part in the workshop.
Meanwhile a Web site was opened Tuesday - DreamRelief.org - and the direct toll-free line 1-855-HELP-MY-FAMILY, to inform youths and their families about the documentation needed to register.
Jose Alejandro Rios, an undocumented student from Elgin, Illinois, said at Tuesday's press conference that his colleagues need have no fear about demanding their freedom.
""We fought for and won this by acting without fear and we will not be afraid to claim our freedom at this point," said the student, who hopes to legalize his status so he can enter the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The ICIRR recalled that among the five requirements for qualifying for deferred deportation is having come to the United States before the age of 16, being in school or having received a high school diploma, and having no criminal record. EFE