Being the land of opportunity, the United States of America attracts millions of people from around the world in search of greener pastures. A great number of these immigrants settle in California.
California tops the list of U.S. states having the most number of immigrants followed by New York and Texas. As of 2013, records show that some 10.3 million immigrants live in California. Unfortunately, more than two million of them are undocumented or considered to be illegal residents or illegal aliens.
Early this year, however, unauthorized immigrants in this western state received the good news they’ve long been waiting for. The programs that U.S. President Barack Obama earlier announced have been implemented after the passage of new immigrant-friendly laws in California.
These include the three-year temporary resident status, a work permit, access to low-cost auto insurance and student loan programs at state universities and legal representation for minors.
Temporary Legal Residency
“Immigrants living in California illegally can now enjoy a legal resident status for three years. This, however, does not guarantee citizenship when their temporary status expires,” according to Attorney Kerry Yianilos, immigration attorney in San Diego.
In line with this, unauthorized residents can also apply for a driver’s license today. In fact, more field offices are accommodating the influx of applicants and they have even extended their office hours.
Access to Auto Insurance
As new drivers apply for their licenses, they also need not worry about securing auto insurance when they register their vehicles. With the new laws in favor of illegal immigrants in place, there is an opportunity to purchase affordable insurance policies via the California low cost auto insurance program.
Access to Student Loans
College students in California who have decided to stay even after their visa’s expiration or who came to the state illegally are also covered in the new immigrant laws. They can now take advantage of loan programs particularly the California DREAM loan program which will be made available to some 2,500 students. This is endorsed by the University of California and California State University Systems.
Protection from Violence
Victims of domestic violence who don’t have the confidence to report to authorities are also among the beneficiaries of the new laws. This time, those at risk of being physically battered need not fear of being deported if they report their cases to law enforcement authorities.
Protection for Children
As for children of illegal immigrants, state-subsidized health care coverage is now available focusing on low-income families. This program is expected to benefit some 170,000 children.
On the other hand, children who arrived on the California border alone are now eligible to apply for legal status. Additionally, immigrant children who are undocumented can avail of legal representation through the help of non-profit organizations. An existing legal aid amounting to $3 million is available to help minors in the legal process that they have to go through.