President Obama’s new deportation policy took effect Wednesday, allowing young illegal immigrants to apply to stay in the United States.

The president’s program allows eligible illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to begin submitting applications for work authorization and a two-year deferment on deportation.

Media reports said thousands of people were applying around the nation for the new status, which is modeled after the DREAM Act legislation debated in Congress.

DREAM Act advocacy and outreach organization United We Dream brought together applicants and attorneys to publicize the changes in immigration enforcement and encourage young people to learn about the application process as a part of a day national day of events marking the occasion.