'Dreamers' waiting for DACA decision

CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- President Donald Trump is expected to announce the end of the DACA program  Tuesday. Central Illinois DACA recipients say, after spending their whole lives here, they're worried they could be deported.

DACA recipients, or "Dreamers," are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" program was started by former president Barack Obama five years ago. It gives them temporary protection from deportation.

Dreamers have been waiting for several months to see what the current president would do. He's expected to shut it down after a six month delay. That means the government wouldn't accept new applicants and current recipients will have their protection expire.

Illinois is home to the fourth largest population of dreamers. In Illinois, 42,000 lives are stuck in limbo. 

One area dreamer says she's worried about Tuesday's decision. She wants to remain anonymous.

"So it's scary at times, to think what happens if they take this away, what happens if they decide you can still get deported?"

She was brought to the U.S. 22-years ago when she was 8-years old.

"We did not choose to come to the United States. Our parents brought us here. Most of the DACA people, we don't know anything outside of the United States."

National polls show most Americans approve of the DACA program and it has bipartisan support in Congress. 

That's part of why the decision debate is frustrating to some people. Tom Garza is president of the CU Immigration Forum.

"If there's any group that stands out as, okay these people are worth protecting, or worth defending, or worth working for, it would be these kids. These kids on DACA."

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Illinois' Democratic Senator Dick Durbin are pushing a bill which would give a path to citizenship and Congressional leaders are urging President Trump to hold off on his decision.

"It's cruel, that may be a harsh for some people but it's cruel, because you're talking about thousands and thousands of people, young people who under no way of thinking can be held responsible for the fact that they don't have documentation. It's just simply not their fault."

Some dreamers just want people to take a walk in their shoes.

"We are bringing in money. We are not bad people. We are mothers, we are fathers, we are doctors. Everyone is doing something to help the United States. We were raised here, I've been here for 22 years, I truly consider myself an American."

Attorneys general from ten states signed an open letter to President Trump. They gave him a deadline of September 5 to end the program, or the White House would face legal action.

The six month enforcement delay could give Congress enough time to create a replacement program.

During his campaign, Trump was very critical of DACA, but, once elected, President Trump was fairly supportive of the program, saying the administration would deal with DACA with heart.

There are about 96,000 people eligible for DACA in Illinois; 42,000 are actually in the program.


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