New guidelines will now determine who has a better chance to stay and fight for citizenship.
Undocumented immigrants who either attend school, have relatives in the military or are primary care takers for sick family members will have a better chance of avoiding deportation. We found two Valley residents whose fortunes just changed for the better.
Hilaria Mendoza is an undocumented immigrant who constantly cares for her sick daughter Karina. Karina was diagnosed with Leukemia six weeks ago. Under the new rules rolled out Thursday -- Hilaria stands a better chance of staying in America with Karina and her two siblings. She told us through a translator her family works hard in the fields everyday.
"We're not just criminals. We're just here to work and have our dreams accomplished. And to have an education for our children." said Mendoza.
Hilaria, her brother Solomon and three other family members came to America from Mexico in 1989. Hilaria is the only one protected but Solomon says either way they're staying together as a family.
"If they decide to deport us and they leave my sister alone, it's like a family being apart. We stay as a family. A united family." said Mendoza.
The Mendoza's are relentless in trying to become citizens the right way, but Solomon admits it's been tough.
Former Fresno State student body president Pedro Ramirez can relate. Ramirez made national headlines last year when he admitted to being an undocumented immigrant to the school newspaper.
Ramirez got his degree in June and is now enrolling at CSU Long Beach this semester to get his masters. Being a student benefits him under the new criteria, but he's quick to point out that this is only one small step in the right direction.
"It does buy us more time. It doesn't guarantee citizenship or residency changes. What it does is allow us to stay here for the moment. And it doesn't put us on a priority list to be deported which is a good thing." said Ramirez.
And of course the ultimate goal for Ramirez and the Mendoza's is a path to citizenship with legislation like the Dream Act. But that has proven to be difficult to pass so far on the both the state and federal level.