Immigrants flood consulates and schools with documentation requests
Schools in Yakima, Wash., are taking nearly a month to deliver transcripts to former students. The Mexican consulate in Denver introduced Saturday hours last month after passport applications spiked by one-third. San Diego public schools added five employees in a new office to handle records requests.
Schools and consulates have been flooded with requests for documents after President Barack Obama announced a new program allowing young undocumented immigrants to apply for two-year renewable work permits. Up to 1.7 million people may qualify, which would be the broadest stroke to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows in more than 25 years. Applicants – some eager to get in line before November’s presidential elections – are finding they may have to wait a few weeks longer for a prize that has eluded them for years.
The clamor for documents is an early sign that the policy is highly popular. The Obama administration said this month that it approved the first 29 applications among more than 82,000 received since it began accepting requests Aug. 15.
The Mexican consulate in Los Angeles issued 17,444 passports and consular identification cards in August, up 63 percent from the same period last year, said Consul General David Figueroa, who attributes the entire increase to the new policy. The wait for a passport appointment at the largest Mexican consulate grew from one or two days to 40 days last month, then fell to 30 days after the consulate hired five employees to handle the increased workload, opened its main office on Saturdays and extended hours at satellite offices to seven days a week from five.
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