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DACA recipients, advocates watch election results closely

In recent weeks, advocates and universities have been calling for legislation to pass that strengthens the future of DACA.

DENVER — Like many, high school graduation marked a new chapter for Jorge Rivera's life. 

The John F. Kennedy High School alum started out in the work force before returning to college; majoring in marketing at CU Denver.

"To have a better life for me and my family and to make more money and obviously to just get ahead in life," he explained. 

Thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, he's able to attend school and work. 

However, he admits that the anxiety that comes with an uncertain future for the program due to a Supreme Court case can be taxing. 

So we get like emails. I would wake up in the morning and will be, 'Oh, alert, important DACA information.'" he recalled. "So yes, there is unease every single time, especially with that type of court cases. And honestly, it just raises a lot of anxiety not knowing what tomorrow is going to bring in terms of like DACA and my future."

It's also why he's watching the midterm elections closely, as the balance of power in the House and Senate on the federal level hangs in the balance due to races that are still too close to call. 

He believes the election results could impact the future of the program. 

"And it kind of sucks that it has to be political where, my, literally where my life is going to be at," he said. 

Credit: Luis de Leon

Meanwhile, Marissa Molina, the Colorado State immigration director for Forward, a national immigration rights organization, believes DACA recipients live with this uncertainty every day. 

"Elections are only a small slice of that, and the only act that can change that is Congress passing a permanent legislative solution this year," she said in a statement in part. “It is clear that Dreamers - and the entire Centennial State - cannot afford to wait until the next Congress for lawmakers to finally provide DACA recipients and DACA-eligible individuals with a pathway to citizenship."

14,000 Coloradans have been DACA recipients since the program started 10 years ago, according to the organization. 61% of them are now in the labor force, and 92% have a high school diploma.

 Molina is also a DACA recipient herself. 

“DACA allowed me to build a life in Colorado and I am proud to call it home. Because of DACA, I was able to attend college, build a career, and grow a family here, and I look forward to continuing to give back to the community," she said. "Other Dreamers need this same opportunity too, and it will only benefit Colorado’s communities and economy. With legal challenges threatening the program and likely to terminate DACA in the coming months, Congress must pass a pathway to citizenship to protect Dreamers this year or Coloradans will face the consequences.”

Credit: Luis de Leon

MSU Denver's Dreamer Zone has served many DACA recipients. 

MSU Denver's president and CU Denver's chancellor both signed a letter to Colorado's congressional delegation calling for the need to pass legislation allowing permanent legal status for DREAMers.

RELATED: Colorado DACA recipient says federal court ruling is devastating

RELATED: Judge rules new DACA program can continue temporarily

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