DACA uncertainty increases students' stress

NATIONAL (WCIA) -- It's the time of year college students dread: finals week. If that's not stressful enough, many who are DACA recipients are wrapping up the semester, unsure if they'll be able to finish in the spring.

Come March, their citizenship could be revoked. Those helping DACA recipients on campus say the ongoing feud in Congress is taking a huge toll.

Tis the season of long nights, fast food and, if you're lucky, a solid study group.

"I'm a little stressed about, between the group projects and the exams," says UIS junior Madison Stone.

Now, take that stress and add an historic immigration debate which puts you and your family at risk of deportation.

UIS Organization of Latin American Citizenship member, Vanesa Salinas-Perea says, "One of my best friends, she's a DACA recipient and she's just like, 'I don't know what I'm going to do if I'm going to be able to financially support myself and this semester, will I still be able to afford school, what's going to happen next year?'"

Salina-Perea says many are suffering trying to juggle it all.

Salinas-Perea adds, "It really does take a toll on the emotional aspect and their academics and their environment and how they feel."

It's been three months since President Trump ended DACA. Now, there are only three more months for Congress to create a permanent fix.

But, instead of closing in on a solution, they're inching closer to a government shutdown.

"It's not fair to the people that are getting played because it's like a game that they're playing and, that's fine. You can play that, but when it starts affecting other people, this is something that really does impact and hurts a lot of us," says Salinas-Perea.

Sophia Gehlhausen-Anderson, UIS Diversity Center Coordinator of Programs and Outreach, says, "This is definitely the first time that I've felt, just like every day, every week, there's something new."

Gehlhausen-Anderson helps counsel DACA students at UIS. She says the biggest concern is money. If DACA expires, students will lose their work permits.

Gehlhausen-Anderson says, "If they can't work, that puts them in a great risk of not being able to finish their education." 

Many students hope a safety net opens come spring. Right now, local lawmakers are looking to pass legislation which gives undocumented immigrants access to public scholarships.

Congress is still debating a DACA renewal. Right now, Republicans are pushing for heightened border security before striking a deal. Democrats say they want legislation passed before the year's end.

In the midst of uncertainty, UI campuses have created a task force centered around immigration reform. The first meeting is set for January and will consist of students and staff.

UIS officials say, if DACA is not renewed, they're hoping to at least help students finish the semester.


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