While having criticized President Obama's deferred action permit policy as a politically-motivated way to pick up Latino votes in November, Durbin dubbed it "courageous" and "the right thing to do" because it puts the country on a path toward more comprehensive reforms.
"I believe this will make passing the Dream Act easier because as people come to know these individuals and how anxious they are to be part of America's future they will realize what a waste it will be to turn them away," Durbin said.
The massive crowds Durbin saw in Chicago mirrored those across the country. In Los Angeles, the Mexican consulate was bursting with 500 more people than usual on Wednesday and processed 200 more passports than on a typical day.
In Houston at least 2,000 "dreamers," those immigrants who came to the country as children and who are seeking legal status under President Obama's new deferred action permit process, flocked to the Mexican consulate on Tuesday. Houston police officers were called in for two days of crowd control.
But after the 8-page application is complete, the $465 fee paid, the five types of proof of eligibility are collected and the extensive application packet is mailed off, hopeful dreamers will have to wait "several weeks," before the threat of deportation disappears and their permits arrive, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
As many as 1.8 million "dreamers" could be eligible for the two-year permits, according to the Migration Policy Institute. To be eligible, immigrants must to be under the age of 31, came to the United States before their 16th birthday, attended school or enrolled in the military and be able to prove they resided in the country for the past five years.
"Most people were relieved that they had something to apply, for some way to obtain employment authorization and a social security number and in most states a driver's license," said Mony Ruiz-Velasco, a legal director at the National Immigration Justice Center, who advised thousands of applicants at Chicago's Navy Pier on Wednesday.