Eleven individuals who’ve been living in the country illegally for years submitted applications for deferred action on Wednesday as a way to pressure the Obama administration to protect them and millions of other undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The 11 individuals who applied for deferred action include undocumented journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, a businesswoman from Germany, a grandmother who has been taking care of her three grandchildren after their parents got deported and a reconstruction worker from New Orleans who helped rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina.
“Each of the 11 cases is one of eleven million undocumented individuals in America who could potentially be overlooked by any Executive Action issued by President Barack Obama,” a press release by Define American and the National Immigration Law Center reads. “By highlighting their narratives, Define American and NILC intend to start a conversation and humanize the complexities of immigration in America.”
The 11 individuals say they filed request for deferred action on behalf of the millions of undocumented immigrants who did not qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Obama announced in 2012 for undocumented youth who came to the United States as children.
Attached to their request was a memorandum, calling on the Obama administration to halt deportations for most of the 11.7 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. by expanding the DACA program. Obama said last month that he would take executive action on immigration amid Congress’ failure to pass immigration reform legislation. The president is expected to announce those actions by the end of the summer.
Felipe Jesus Diosdado, who is one of 11 immigrants who filed for deferred action on Wednesday, said he hopes Obama will take bold actions. In an interview with VOXXI, the 35-year-old father of two U.S. citizen children said he and others filed their request for deferred action on behalf of the millions of undocumented immigrants who live in fear of getting deported.
“We are trying to project the situation of 11 million people who are in a similar situation that we’re in,” he told VOXXI. “We want to project it so that the president will take action to stop deportations and stop separating families.”
For Diosdado, the threat of deportation is real. He was put in deportation proceedings in May 2014 when he presented himself to the Illinois Secretary of State to apply for a Temporary Visitors Driver’s License, which is available to undocumented immigrants like him, and was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement due to an error by the Secretary of State Office. He was arrested and spent a month in jail.
Thanks to the support he received from the local chapter of Service Employees International Union as well as Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Diosdado was released from jail without having to pay a bond and was allowed to stay in the country temporarily. However, he still faces the threat of deportation.
Next Thursday, he will find out whether he’ll be allowed to stay longer or will be deported to Mexico when he reports to immigration officials. “I am nervous because I have two children. I don’t want to be separated from them,” he told VOXXI, expressing how he feels about reporting to immigration officials next week.