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Migrant youth work permits available

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Illegal immigrants can now apply for the right to stay in the U.S. They'd get a temporary social security number while trying to earn citizenship. The controversial migrant worker program only applies to people who came here as kids and stayed out of jail.

Young workers have been looking forward to this day.

Yar Barron from Pasco tells KEPR, "Everyday I've been checking the website."

After the President's surprise announcement in June. It's not the DREAM Act, but it's pretty close. It allows young, illegal immigrants to work here legally while trying to become a citizen.

From OneAmerica, Jazmin Santacruz explains, "There's gonna be tons of people applying."

The application began today to get an official permit and receive a temporary social security card. It's going to give Jesus Larios a far brighter future. Jesus' parents came from Mexico years ago in hopes for a better life for him.

He says, "I'm gonna be taking a job at CBC, which is really exciting."

Jesus is one of more than 30,000 people across the state expected to apply and qualify for the program this week.

He continues, "Just being able to do something after I get my diploma after I graduate and be able to go into the field that I've worked so hard for. It's amazing."

But suddenly having 30,000 more eligible workers is a big change to the current job climate.

It's one the biggest concerns to opponents of the policy. They're worried about adding a whole new demographics to the work force and the effects it could have on our local economy. But for Jesus, and his friend Yar, it's fair competition, like anything else in society.

Jesus says, "It's about who is best for the job, not where they came from."

Yar chimes in, "You're not gonna be having people competing for who's mowing the lawn. It's who's gonna be the best doctor, best lawyer so my guess it would bring the economy up."

Local economists tell KEPR that we could see a spike in unemployment immediately due to the changes, but over time we could actually see more job creation.

"30,000 youth would be able to have businesses and employ more people and bring more money into our economy. Especially in Washington," says Santacruz.

This week is a big victory for immigrants across the nation, but the battle is far from over.

"We can continue to push for something better," continues Santacruz, "This is just the beginning."

People interested in applying for the program can get help with the paperwork this week. There is an open forum on Wednesday at 6-PM at St. Joe's in Kennewick.

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