Immigrants flood center with questions


by Vicente Arenas / KHOU 11 News

Posted on August 13, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 13 at 6:44 PM

HOUSTON—A Houston immigration center’s phones and computers crashed after a tidal wave of calls about a new deferred action program.

It allows illegal immigrants who came to this country as children to stay for at least two years.

The director of the center, called Families Immigrants and Students Fighting for Immigration Rights (F.I.E.L), said thousands of people have been asking for help.

“This is only the beginning,” Cesar Espinosa said.

Fabian Acosta, 20, said the program is a dream come true.

“I was about to cry”, he said about when he heard he had a chance at gaining legal status.

The Galena Park High School graduate went to college and is working on his mechanical engineering degree.

He came to Houston as an illegal Immigrant when he was a child.

As many as a 150,000 people in Texas are expected to apply to stay in the country legally beginning on Wednesday.

Immigration activists said deferred action will allow immigrants “to contribute back to their communities.”

Americans for Legal Immigration say the move will cost taxpayers a huge amount of money.

The national group, which has members in Houston, said President Barack Obama did not have the authority to enact the program.

Many of the people who will apply for the status have never been to their homelands.

“We feel that we are part of this nation,” Aura Espinosa said.

The program has several requirements. A few of the requirement for the immigrants to be 31 years old, or younger, and they must have entered the country before they were 16 and lived here for five years.

So many people called the F.I.E.L. center for help that the group’s phones and computers crashed.

The group said long lines are expected at the office on Wednesday when the government begins accepting applications.