Thousands of SC immigrants could benefit from immigration overhaul

Thousands of SC immigrants could benefit from immigration overhaul

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Thousands of immigrants living here in South Carolina could benefit from the presidents new immigration rules.

There are more than 200,000 immigrants who live here, and of those, 95,000 are living here illegally, according to the Pew Research Center.

The immigration overhaul is expected to help keep families together, and add diversity in South Carolina schools.

Attorney Maro Torres said, "Probably 80% at least of our clientele is Hispanic."

Torres says President Obama's immigration plan gives him new hope for the future of his clients.

"It gives me great satisfaction to be able to keep a family together and to be able to help a family stay in this country and legalize their status," said Torres.

The 95,000 undocumented immigrants in South Carolina is almost the same as the entire population as North Charleston.

Torres says he believes there are two groups who would be affected by the immigration changes.

People who are here illegally, but have children who were born U.S. Citizens, are one group.

Torres said, "If you're a parent and you've been in the country since January 1st 2010, you don't have any serious criminal history, you're up to date on your taxes, then you'll probably be able to apply for this benefit."

This process will happen every three years, protecting parents from deportation if they qualify.

Torres says children will also benefit.

"There's going to be an expansion of what's called DACA, which is the deferred action for young adults," said Torres.

People who came into the country as minors are already able to apply for this special status. The difference is, there will no longer be an age cap on those who can apply.

"Diversity is something that works both ways," said Dr. Andrew Sobiesuo, Associate Provost for College of Charleston Center for International Education.

Sobiesuo says these children could help diversify schools.

"People of different backgrounds, when they get to meet together and they get to discuss, and they get to know one another, then everybody benefits from that," said Sobiesuo.

Supporters of the plan will continue to watch as the president faces opposition from several republican leaders who are against his immigration changes.

Copyright 2014 WCSC. All rights reserved.