By Ashley Strickland, CNN
Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) - When the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta opened at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, 60 people were waiting outside. The clusters of people aren't unusual. There is often a wait to process documents and take classes.
It was the number of children and young people streaming in on their own, or alongside their parent, that stuck out to the consulate employees. At least 100 were on site, eager to process documents, during the busiest part of the day. Once they have the proper paperwork, they can apply for a chance to remain in the United States for at least two more years without fear of deportation.
CNN spoke with some who came in and out of the consulate. The constants? Faces bright with hope and voices that carried the excitement visible in their eyes. FULL POST
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Long lines formed at help centers and lawyers' office across America Wednesday as thousands of young, undocumented immigrants began applying for relief from deportation.
They took advantage of one of the biggest immigration policy changes in years. An executive order by President Barack Obama allows those who entered the country illegally as children to remain and work without fear of deportation for at least two years.
A crowd formed at Chicago's Navy Pier Wednesday to get help from immigration lawyers and fill out forms.
"I was able to learn the customs and traditions, and I am used to living the life here," Nayeli Manzano, 16, told CNN affiliate WLS-TV.
She arrived in the United States as a child from Mexico and said she is very much American.
"I feel I am a citizen," she said. "The only thing that is stopping me is a little piece of paper."
Tuesday, at a Latino community center in New York, Maria, a young Chilean, leaped from her seat.
"I've found the form!" she screamed.
She was with a number of other undocumented immigrants meeting there to get legal advice in anticipation of the release of the form, which authorities surprisingly posted a day before they had said they would.
The form, titled "Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," was dated August 15, 2012, and bore the expiration date of February 28, 2013.
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting requests Wednesday for consideration of deferred action for young undocumented immigrants who arrived in America as children.
Here are five things you should know about the bold change announced by President Barack Obama in June:
1. What is it?
The policy is a "temporary" measure that allows eligible immigrants to apply for work permits and deportation deferral for a two-year period. Supporters stress it does not grant immunity or a provide a shortcut to citizenship but affords undocumented immigrant children a chance to be productive workers - with a promise they won't be deported for two years. Opponents see the policy as granting backdoor amnesty to people who came to America illegally and tightening an already poor job market for young Americans.
2. Who is eligible?
As many as 1.7 million youths may qualify for the program, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. To be eligible to apply, you must have arrived in America when you were 16 or younger and must be under 30 now. You must also have lived continuously in the United States for five years and must be currently in school or already graduated from high school or have served in the military. You cannot apply if you have been convicted of a felony or major misdemeanor.
Editor's note: Ali Noorani is the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, an organization based in Washington that advocates for the value of immigrants. Follow him on Twitter.
By Ali Noorani, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Look at the goals Ivan Rosales has set for himself and you'll see an example of the American ambition that makes our nation great.
Ivan is a recent graduate of California State University in San Bernardino, and is about to start a master's program in bioethics at New York University. But that's just a steppingstone on his path, he hopes, to medical school, where he wants to study oncology.
Along the way, he'd also like to join the military and serve our country as an Army medic.
Sounds like a guy you'd want as your neighbor (or your doctor), right?
Well, there's a catch: Ivan was born in Mexico and came to the United States when he was 8 months old. Although two older siblings were born here and are citizens, Ivan is an undocumented immigrant.
But the Obama administration saw that America was losing out when people like Ivan could not reach their full potential because of their immigration status.
The administration announced June 15 that it would consider requests for "deferred action" - that is, a stay of deportation proceedings - for young people who came to the United States before age 16, were 30 or younger as of June 15, have lived in the United States for at least five years, have graduated or are enrolled in school or were honorably discharged from the military, have stayed out of trouble and pass a background check.
Excitement has been building among eligible young people during the 60 days U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had to work out the details. The agency published the request forms Tuesday and is accepting requests starting Wednesday.