President's action opens new opportunities for undocumented students

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on June 15, 2012 at 7:07 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 15 at 7:21 PM

DALLAS - President Barack Obama’s decision to grant work permits to children of undocumented workers will change lives forever, say immigration reform advocates.

Recent University of North Texas graduate Alonso Salas said it's an opportunity for him to come out of the shadows and join the legal workforce.

"This changes my life completely,” he said.

It's not every day you can say that. But then, it's not every day the president of the United States makes a decision that so directly impacts the course of your life.

Salas is undocumented. The 24-year-old came to America as child with his mother, who cleans houses.

He just graduated with a degree in international relations. But until Friday, the only job he could take was for cash in restaurant kitchen.

"This just opened a thousand doors for me," he said. "The opportunities are endless right now."

Salas watched the president’s speech along with a group that included Wendy Balderas, an undocumented student at Eastfield College.

"I can do what everybody else can do now," Balderas said. "I can drive a car, hopefully. Just not be afraid to be deported."

Rene Martinez, the local Director of LULAC, said it is an opportunity for the country as well.

"These kids are gonna have a major impact on those sectors of our economy, in terms of technology, education, social work," she said. "They're going to be very productive citizens in our society.”

And according to the students, they'll never forget where they were when they heard the words which will make that possible.

"I'm happy," Salas said. "Whether it's a political game or not, this is real to me. This is going to have real-life implications to my life."

And 800,000 others like him, across the country.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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