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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - People in this country illegally are lining up for what some call a shot at the American Dream.
Effective today, they can apply for work permits under a sweeping new federal program.
President Obama used his executive power to allow millions of immigrants to stay in the United States.
The program is called Deferred Action for Child Arrivals. Critics say it's amnesty.
It will allow young people who were brought to this country illegally to live and work without being deported.
At the Latin -American Coalition, a Latino advocacy group in Charlotte, a steady stream of people stopped by to ask questions.
Mayra Tello, 15, dropped by with her mother to get updated information on how to apply.
"I want to have the opportunity to get a job, get my license, stuff that I would like to have," said Tello.
Under the new policy, participants can receive a two-year deferral from deportation and apply for work permits.
The program is aimed at young people under age 30 who came to the U.S. before they were 16 years old.
They have to be in school, have a diploma, a G.E.D or be serving in the military.
A clean criminal record is also required.
Tello, who came to the U.S. from Peru at age two, says the program changed her outlook on the future.
"After high school, I was like what am I going to do after that, am I going to find a job, am I ever going to be as successful as I want to, so when I heard about the new opportunity we have I was really happy about it," said Tello.
Executive Director Jess George says the coalition has increased its staff to handle the influx of calls.
The center will also host information sessions and workshops to guide people through the process.
"Even if it is only for two years, it's a remarkable opportunity and truly a breath of fresh air for many young people who have been living in fear for years and years," said George.
George also cautions against scam artists posing as attorneys and charging exorbitant fees to help process applications.
According to the U.S. Citizens and Immigration services, only attorneys and representatives accredited with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) can give legal advice on applying.
Look for a BIA certificate in their office or call the North Carolina Bar to verify.