Hundreds of East Texas illegal immigrants taking part in "deferred action" program

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - President Obama's "deferred action" initiative is making the dreams of young immigrants now a reality. The program offers a two-year work permit and social security number to immigrants who meet the requirements.

Calls, stacks of paperwork, and numerous visitors are the center of attention for Pastor Carlos Alegria of Southside Baptist Church. For the last three weeks, he's been helping to provide a better life for the growing population of immigrants in Angelina County.

"It might be probably between 25 thousand to 30 thousand Hispanics living around here. Among those, probably 40 percent we know have legal papers," said Alegria.

Thursday, Alegria stayed until midnight, filing more than 35 deferred action applications received within about five hours. So far, he estimates he's received more than 200.

"Life in America is not only about receiving or making but also serving others," said Alegria.

For some, like Julio Perez, President Obama's program could not have come at a better time.

"I just need a better job. I need to go to school too and keep going to college," said work permit applicant, Julio Perez.

He's hoping the two-year work permit will afford him the better opportunities he's been searching for.

"I work at McDonald's, as a manager," said Perez.

As a single father, he hopes to be an example for his two-year-old son.

"It's just to show him I can do something with myself," said Perez.

Algeria says he will continue accepting new applications through next week. Then, he'll have to schedule appointments to allow himself time to finish the paperwork he's already collected.

"When I'm going to be 80 years old, somebody will come next to me and say, 'you remember me?' I probably won't. But, they will show me their families and their successful life. I think that I'm going to be very happy," said Alegria.

Alegria anticipates dozens more applications should come in Saturday. He says the deadline for the "deferred action" program will be February 28, 2013.

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