Washington, Aug 16 (IANS): Thousands of young, undocumented immigrants including Indians have began applying for relief under President Barack Obama's mini DREAM Act that allows them to work without fear of deportation for at least two years.
There are some 30,000 Indians among as many as 1.7 million youths who entered the US illegally as children who may qualify for the programme announced by Obama through an executive order in June, according to the Pew Research Centre.
Long lines formed at help centres and lawyers' office across America Wednesday as illegal immigrants came forward to take advantage of one of the biggest immigration policy changes announced by Obama to, as critics suggest, woo Latino voters ahead of the November poll.
When he signed the order, Obama said the changes under the "Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" will make immigration policy "more fair, more efficient and more just".
"This is not amnesty," Obama said. "This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure."
However, Republicans denounced the measure, saying the move amounts to amnesty and usurps congressional authority.
Under the new policy, people younger than 30 who arrived in the US before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military, can get a two-year deferral from deportation and apply for work permits.
Participants must prove they have been living in the country continuously for at least five years.
The move addresses a concern of the Latino community and includes some of the provisions of a Democratic proposal called the DREAM Act (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) that failed to win enough Republican support to gain congressional approval.