The Trump administration’s announcement Tuesday that it plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program places 27,000 North Carolinians in limbo.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says it’s now up to Congress to come up with a solution before the current protections offered to the so-called DREAMers expire in six months.
“We’ve kind of gotten used to the vitriol and the constant dehumanization and prejudice against our community,” says Jorge Ramos, 20, who has lived in the U.S. since he was six. “So, I mean, although it’s hard, it’s not too different from our realities already – although I will acknowledge it will make things a lot more difficult and just hard, for no reason.”
Ramos, born in Mexico, says he has no plans to return to the country of his birth. But a change in status and lack of protection will mean he can’t legally pursue work, pay taxes or continue his education.
DACA protections were extended to nearly 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants who had to apply to qualify for them.
The Department of Homeland Security will stop processing any new DACA applications.
William Saenz, communications coordinator for El Pueblo, an advocacy group for Hispanic immigrants, says the uncertainty is stressful.
“Now, for a lot of these kids – with the next six months, as Congress debates and figures out what they’re going to do next – these kids really don’t know what their options are, essentially, looking forward,” he points out. “It’s a very difficult time for both them and El Pueblo, considering that we work with these kids almost every day.”
Ramos says with no path to citizenship and a lack of legal status, the decision places people who want to contribute to society in an impossible situation.
“We don’t have any alternative,” he stresses. “By doing this and by criminalizing us, and by not giving us the ability to legally be in this country, if it pushes me to have to drive without a driver’s license, illegally, then that’s what I’m going to have to do.”
The Trump administration says it won’t prioritize deporting people previously protected under DACA and will instead focus on undocumented people with criminal records.