President Trump is expected to announce an end to DACA Tuesday.
The program protects young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation. News that Trump might repeal the program has put the dreamers on edge. They say it has forced them to discuss whether their entire family would return to dangerous parts of Mexico they escaped years ago.
In Missouri, DACA has allowed more than 3,500 young people to come forward, pass background checks, and live and work legally in the country.
St. Louis immigration attorney Jessica Mayo says the news is heartbreaking to many families in Missouri. Mayo says in Missouri alone, ending DACA would cost Missouri more than $209M in annual GDP losses. Mayo says it’s not possible for many people to get U.S. citizenship. She says they have people must fit into narrow categories to get legal status.
In some cases, it could take more than 50 years for a visa. Mayo says certain family relationships and certain skill sets are prioritized over others and there are a limited number of visas.
Mayo says there are three main ways to get legal status in this country, “That’s if you have an immediate family member that already has legal status in that country, if you have an employer that’s willing to petition for you that can prove there is no U.S. citizen willing to take that job, or third, if you fall into one of the humanitarian categories. If you could show very specific elements that you would be persecuted in your home country or if you have been the victim of a violent crime here in the United States and have been helpful to the police.”
Mayo says it’s possible that if DACA is repealed, people may still be able to finish out their two- year term with DACA and keep working during that time. Mayo says after that, it’s anyone’s guess how the enforcement will go with DACA recipients, "They have given all their information to the government, so it's possible the government would work on deporting some of the DACA recipients despite them not having any criminal history despite having potential family in the united states, it's also possible the government wouldn't prioritize them."
Several Forest Park Community College students shared their stories with 5 on Your Side.
They say as DACA recipients, they were given hope at a chance to live the American Dream. The students say their parents left Mexico when they were young because they lived in poverty-stricken, crime-ridden communities. They hope the president does not go through with the repeal of DACA tomorrow.