PHARR, TX - President Trump put an end to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a permit that granted legal status to children who were brought into the country illegally by their parents. The news is particularly devastating for DACA recipients living along the border.
“I’m here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration, has been rescinded,” said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a morning press conference Tuesday.
DACA recipients, their families, and pro-immigrant activists gathered to listen to the attorney general’s live announcement of the end of an executive order that provided temporary legal status and work permits for around 800,000 undocumented immigrants across the country.
“I was hoping that it would be a different outcome but I was expecting it,” DACA recipient Leslie Velazquez said.
The 22-year-old is one of approximately 28,000 DACA recipients in this region of the border. Velazquez came to the U.S. at just 6 years old and is now a year away from graduating with a bachelor degree in education. Her two brothers are also DACA recipients who work and go to college.
“I know that it’s something that is going to hurt us all,” Velazquez said. “So, I know that getting home it’s going to be a lot of crying and trying to find solutions.”
Leslie and the rest of the group are trying to keep their spirits up, reminding themselves of the fight that lies ahead. They rallied outside the Texas attorney general’s district office in Pharr, Texas; a symbolic location as Texas recently threatened the White House with a lawsuit if the program continued.
Tuesday's announcement prompted condemnation from former President Obama, who took to Facebook and called President Trump’s decision “self-defeating” and “cruel.”
Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted: “Mexico will receive the young people who return with open arms,” promising that the government would support their reintegration.
México recibirá con brazos abiertos a los jóvenes que regresen. El @GobMX les ofrecerá el mayor apoyo para integrarse plenamente al país.— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) September 5, 2017
With the end of DACA comes uncertainty. Many of these immigrants and their families now consider a return to hiding in the shadows like one immigrant mother who goes by the name of Maria. She chose to not share her last name fearing her undocumented son could be identified.
“I’m holding back tears,” she said vowing to continue the fight pressuring her community to vote.
Living in the shadows is only one new reality facing hundreds of thousands across the country. Those who live along the southern border may also lose their ability to travel the country as all roads north lead to border patrol checkpoints.
“I did feel stuck before DACA and I know that once March 5 hits us, I’m going to feel stuck again,” Velazquez said.
DACA recipients are now turning to a Republican-led Congress for a permanent solution to the issue. Congress will have six months before the DACA program expires.
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