Local lawyer expects immigration reform in 2013 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Local lawyer expects immigration reform in 2013

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PASCO, Wash. - More than 50,000 young, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children were recently granted two year deportation deferrals as part of the Obama Administration's Deferred Action Plan.

The program faced tough critics, at first, calling it something of a 'free pass.' But of the estimated 900,000 believed to be eligible, so far, only about 300,000 people have applied.

One reason more haven't filed could have been uncertainty surrounding the presidential election.

"Deferred action has been a very good thing for the country and for the students," said attorney Thomas Roach. 

Locally, Roach's office has seen five cases approved so far. The first, was one of the first thirty to be approved nationwide.

"There's a lot of kids out there that now have some hope of a future, that got brought here when they were little kids, have no culpability, have clean records and are going to be part of the future of America," Roach said.

He said President Obama's re-election was an eye-opener in politics.

"Republicans are falling all over themselves trying to be reasonable now about the largest minority group in America and the fastest growing segment of the American population: Hispanics," Roach said.

Of the nearly 300,000 applicants, more than 200,000 are from Mexico. The number two country of origin is El Salvador, with just over 13,000 applicants.

"Deferred action is a half a step towards immigration reform. It doesn't give kids legal status, it just gives them a work permit and deferred status," Roach said.

While Roach called the Deferred Action Plan a 'half step' in the right direction, he believes full comprehensive immigration reform is likely within the next year. Meaning legalization and green card status for the roughly 11 million people nationwide that are considered illegal.

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