As Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the phase out of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Tuesday morning, Delaware’s senior senator, Tom Carper (D-Delaware), was meeting with DACA recipients, often called DREAMers, at Delaware State University.
Those students say the U.S. is their home and they’re here to stay.
Former President Barack Obama enacted DACA in 2012 after Congress failed to pass immigration reform. It allowed people like 20-year-old Yulma Lopez, brought here as a three-year-old child, to work and attend school - if they provided information about where they live and go school. As long as they stayed out of trouble, they were protected from deportation.
Lopez is studying to be an art therapist at DSU. But now she and hundreds of thousands face deportation when their work permits expire next year.The federal government will only renew permits expiring by March 5th of next year. And it will only consider new applications already in. DACA recipients also can’t reenter the U.S. if they leave.
Lopez said she’s scared because the government knows where her family lives and can use that information. She worries immigration enforcement will deport her and her brother and parents, who are all undocumented.
“But without DACA you know, we won’t have our driver’s licenses, our social security, we won’t have the ability keep ourselves safe, keep our jobs stay, you know, stay safe with our families," she said. "That’s that’s going to be like the truth of it. We won’t be safe."
Ana Arana’s parents brought her from Mexico when she was four years old. The DSU sophomore is studying Public Health. She wants to work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if she’s allowed to stay.
“One thing I know for certain is that I’m going to continue to fight with my education and I’m going to continue to do the best that I can," she said. "But, I’m scared for my mom, myself, my family.”
A rally in support of the DREAMers was held Tuesday afternoon on the DSU campus. About 30 students marched through campus chanting "Here to stay" and "DREAMers, DREAMers," while holding signs that said "Defend DACA" and "Together We Are Stronger."
Sen. Carper says he’ll work to protect DREAMers through legislation. He calls the decision to send young people working or in school to countries they’ve never been before shortsighted and cruel.
The other members of Delaware's Congressional delegation also said they'd support an effort on Capitol Hill to keep DACA intact.
DREAMers are overwhelmingly hard working and tax paying, many have served in our armed forces or graduated near the top of their schools and should be allowed to continue to contribute to our nation," said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) in a statement. "President Trump has gone back on his promise to 'treat DACA with heart,' and Congress now has the urgent responsibility to fix our broken immigration system in a bipartisan way that protects DREAMers. I was proud to be an active part of the legislative process that delivered bipartisan immigration reform that passed the Senate in 2013, and I intend to work hard to do so again.”
“Turning our backs on DREAMers will tear families apart, put innocent young people at risk, and cost the economy billions of dollars," said Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware) in a statement. "I call upon my Republican colleagues in the House, many who have voiced their support of DACA, to bring the DREAM Act to the floor for a vote immediately to ensure we put a stop to this cruel deportation effort.”