HARLINGEN, Texas – Breathing a sigh of relief, ‘dreamers’ will continue to benefit from the Obama-era ‘DACA’ program, granting undocumented children a temporary legal status.
A group of them affiliated with a pro-immigrant organization called ‘La Union del Pueblo Entero’ or LUPE, gathered outside Sen. John Cornyn’s office in Harlingen, Texas Friday morning to protest the proposed ‘repeal-and-replace’ of Obamacare.
The chants they shouted have become synonymous with the fight for legal status for many undocumented families in America.
Civic engagement sparked a change in Maria Ibarra’s life.
Even before she signed up for former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), Ibarra never shied away from speaking her mind.
“It’s very, very ‘wishy-washy.’ We don’t really know what he’s going to do,” said Maria, referring to Thursday’s announcement by the Trump administration to continue the 5-year program granting temporary legal status to about 800,000 people.
While she welcomes the move, she worries the program won’t be permanent.
“DACA, at the end of the day, is still an executive order,” she said. “Despite the Trump administration saying that DACA is going to continue as it is, it doesn’t really guarantee that they’re not going to take it away in what’s left of his presidency.”
What has been taken off the table is DAPA, deferred action for parents. That program stalled in court after the order was successfully challenged by Texas and 25 other states two years ago.
The Department of Homeland Security formally reversed the action on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Ibarra and her family are continuing the fight, hoping Washington will deliver on immigration reform.
“Regardless if you’re undocumented or documented, these policies affect them, and politicians actually have a conversation with them," she said.
One of the benefits DACA has provided Ibarra is being able to move freely across the country. That means her plans to pursue a master’s degree in Pittsburgh next month are still on, for now.