U.S. Government Launches New Immigration Program

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Honduran Consulate officials said the number of people applying for passports has more than doubled in the past week, and almost all of them have said they were getting passports to apply to stay in the U.S.

Mayra Rivera, 47, brought her children, ages 18 and 20, to the consulate Tuesday from Philadelphia to help them apply for passports.

"They came here when they were children. So, for them, even though they are from Honduras ... this is their adoptive country and they love it a lot," Rivera said in Spanish. "For them to succeed ... is like winning the Lotto."

Rivera, who came to the U.S. seven years ago from Puerto Cortes, Honduras, is not eligible for the program. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had said DHS does not intend to use the program to target parents for deportation.

Advocacy groups across the country are planning events starting this week to help immigrants fill out their applications and get all their paperwork in order.

The Migration Policy Institute and the Pew Hispanic Center estimate that as many as 1.7 million people could be eligible to stay in the U.S. and legally work under the new policy.

DHS officials have said repeatedly they don't have an estimate of how many people may apply. In an internal document outlining the program's implementation, officials estimated 1.04 million people would apply in the first year and about 890,000 would be eligible.

The document, obtained by The Associated Press, estimated that the program could cost between $467.7 million and $585.4 million. The department anticipated collecting about $484.2 million in fees.

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Online:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals

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