With relaxed rules for undocumented in the US, real work in Mexico begins

President Obama announced new rules to allow undocumented immigrants under the age of 16 to apply for a stay of deportation and a way to continue their schooling.

Now that the US has implemented a reprieve for young, undocumented immigrants in the US, Peggy Jaramillo’s real work begins.

The director of Tu Casa San Luis en Dallas, which provides support to Mexican immigrants in Texas, is planning information sessions to get the Mexican expatriate community up to speed about how undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US before age 16, and are not yet 30 years old, can apply for a stay of deportation, a work permit, and continue their education under new rules that President Obama put into place after the DREAM Act failed to pass.

“There are millions of children in this situation,” says Ms. Jaramillo, who splits her time between Dallas and San Luis Potosi in Mexico and works to educate families on both sides of the border. “Now they’re going to have access to education. We’re trying to get all the information we can and get the word out.”

Sixty percent of unauthorized immigrants to the United States are Mexican, according to the Migration Policy Institute. There were 6.7 million undocumented Mexicans living in the US in 2009.

President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” doesn’t go as far as the proposed DREAM Act, which died on the Senate floor after passing the House of Representatives in 2010. That legislation would have created a path to citizenship for certain undocumented young people. The current policy provides a Social Security number and a temporary stay of deportation proceedings.

“We young people have a lot of abilities, and the fact that we’re from another country shouldn’t matter,” says María del Rosario Pérez Méndez at a small taco stand on a busy corner of Mexico City. “I believe we should have opportunities no matter where we are.”

She expressed empathy for her paisanos in the US, especially those young people who may benefit from Obama’s reprieve. Some of those sent back to Mexico have no real ties to the country. Some don't even speak Spanish.

Even as the law takes effect, the Obama administration continues to focus on border security. The headlines in Mexico on Wednesday reflected greater concern with a Wall Street Journal report on US plans to send surveillance blimps - the kind used in operations in Afghanistan - to the US border with Mexico.

The Journal on Tuesday reported that the military plans to test whether an unmanned blimp, also called “the floating eye,” could catch drug smugglers or migrants illegally trying to reach the US. Such enforcement generates suspicion in many corners in Mexico.

But Ms. Perez Mendez views the relaxed deportation rules favorably, as do many Mexicans. “It says a lot that even though [Obama] is president, he has the humility to extend these opportunities to other people,” she says.

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