SAN ANTONIO – Some illegal immigrants are counting down the days until they no longer have to live in fear of deportation.
President Barack Obama’s immigration policy change will allow some illegal immigrants to get work permits and work in the U.S. legally.
After years of waiting, these younger residents just have about a month to go.
Ultio is days shy of his nineteenth birthday.
“This is my Prom King sash,” he shows News 4. “I also won most likely to be famous when I was in high school.”
And like other teenagers, Ultio is navigating the road from high school to college.
"Education is for a lifetime,” he says. “No one can take that away from you."
Wise words from someone who knows all too well his whole world could slip away in an instant.
"I do feel like I'm living a double life,” Ultio says.
The all-American Prom King isn’t actually an American. Ultio grew up in Mexico and was brought here illegally when he was ten years old.
He attended our schools and speaks our language, but as he got older, realized he was different from his friends.
"I feel like a bird in a cage trying to fly out,” Ultio says. “But I really can't fly. I have to stay inside that cage for my own safety."
He’s one of nearly a million people who immigrated as kids, built a life here and now has an opportunity to stay in America – legally.
“It’s kind of a moving target right now,” immigration attorney Joe De Mott describes the policy process. “We really don’t know what’s going to happen.”
De Mott’s had more than 150 people, including Ultio, sign up with his firm to purse the new immigration policy.
"What we're telling our clients to do right now is to start gathering documents,” De Mott says. “Proof that you've been here."
That includes military records, proof of a GED, or in Ultio’s case: school transcripts.
In mid-August, he’ll submit those forms and a filing fee to immigration officials in exchange for a work permit.
"With that work permit, they'll be able to go to social security, get a social security number, go get their drivers license, be able to participate fully in our society,” De Mott says.
It’s a dream Ultio says he came so close to abandoning. Many Americans believe he should go home, and he says he started to agree.
"I was already at a point when I said, you know what? I want to go back to Mexico. I want to live a normal life just like everybody else -- but I cannot, because I'm nothing here. I'm flying under the radar,” he says.
So who changed Ultio’s mind? The President.
"These young people are going to make extraordinary contributions and are already making contributions to our society,” President Obama said as he announced the new policy.
Ultio says those words made him feel like he does belong here.
"My heart started beating really fast and I was just super excited,” Ultio says.
His fears of deportation will soon disappear. Until then, he’s hitting the books in pursuit of a business degree.
"My goal is to finish school, get a job and just live a normal American life,” Ultio says.
He’s an illegal immigrant who sees within reach, the American Dream.
Ultio expects to get his work permit by the end of the year.
He knows by being so public with his story, it could put himself and his family at risk, but he says it’s a risk he’s willing to take to stay here.