The stories they share now could make a difference in the next six months. That’s the message Representative Pramila Jayapal told a dozen young undocumented immigrants during a dinner she hosted on Labor Day.
“People's lives are at stake here. We have 800,000 young people who actually trusted the government when we said a couple of years ago: ‘Give us your information if you qualify for the program. We'll protect you. You'll have some relief. Now, not only is Trump talking about ending the program but this data people gave us will be used against them to deport them,” Rep. Jayapal said.
The White House is expected to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, with a six-month delay. DACA is a program that allowed many of these young people, who were brought here illegally as children, a chance to live and work without fear of being deported.
Gonzaga graduate Paul Quinonez calls DACA “a lifeline.”
University of Washington graduate Graciela Nunez Pargas says she is “privileged” to have been able to have relief, if only temporary.
High school senior Zawadi Chege says she may not be able to attend her dream school, Gonzaga, however. She applied for DACA eight months ago and has still not heard when or if she will be accepted.
“It makes me sad. It makes me angry that somebody can just cut the program like that without knowing what it feels like to go through that or to have someone close to them be deported,” said Chege, who came to the U.S. with her mother and older brother when she was one year old.
The 17-year-old learned she was undocumented in the sixth grade, after her best friend’s family was deported.
“I asked my dad, and he said, ‘ask you mom,’” Chege said, explaining her parents told her they came here to provide a better life for her. But after, she would come home from school wondering if her parents would still be there.
The stories around the table were similar – all young undocumented immigrants who were brought the United States as children, only to face the ramifications as young adults.
In the next six months, they hope for immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship, as the majority are ineligible. Applications for permanent residency and a green card, which is part of the path to citizenship, must include sponsors in the form of immediate family members who are American citizens or employers, according to immigration attorneys.
For Dreamers, their immediate family members are oftentimes also undocumented and, with regards to work, they are often too young and inexperienced workwise to be considered “highly skilled” enough to obtain a green card.
President Trump is set to end the program on Tuesday after threats of a lawsuit from several states, according to NBC News sources.