While Senate Majority Leader (R-Kentucky) has said that Congress would not address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program until next year, uncertainty still looms for 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before they were 16 years old.
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) and nine others wrote to congressional leaders Wednesday, arguing that they are seeing more than 100 young people lose their protective status each day while DACA is in limbo.
Democrats had asked that a year-end spending deal include a resolution to DACA, an Obama-era program that protects people here illegally who came to the U.S. as children. This comes after President Donald Trump announced that he planned to end the program on March 5 unless there was congressional action.
That spending deal needs to be complete by Dec. 22 to avert a government shutdown. Some reports seem to indicate that Democrats are no longer using DACA as a bargaining chip, but nevertheless, this date still has a great deal of significance to thousands of DACA recipients, who see it as their last chance to learn what their future holds before the new year.
Democrats say they hope DACA recipients can receive permanent residency, while Republicans have argued they should wait 10 years until becoming citizens -- with some extending that number to 15 years.
9NEWS spoke to four DACA recipients in Colorado about what Dec. 22 means to them. You can see their stories below.
Marissa Molina has lived in Colorado for 16 years, and was the first person in her family to go to college. She worked as a high school teacher before deciding that she wanted to work with parents to help them better advocate for their kids.
She’s now a manager of community engagement with a charter network in Denver, and her future is in limbo as her DACA status expires in 2018.
“How do I face my students and say you can be anything you want if you work hard, when in reality, if you do not have a nine-digit number, there’s a limit to how much you can accomplish?” she asked.
She says the rest of her family has been able to resolve their immigration status, but that she faces a “20 to 25 year wait” if everything stays the same.
“Dec, 22 is like what happens to that door that was open to us. Will it stay open or will it close?” she asked.
Marco Dorado’s DACA expires in January 2019. He works as a manager of business operations for the Latino Leadership Institute.
“Without DACA, I wouldn’t have been able to get a job,” he said.
To stay in the country, he says he either needs to “get married or my employer sponsors me.”
“The only way that you can get in line is through marriage, which is why there is no line that says you have lived here for many years, you give back to your communities,” he said.
Brandon Garcia works for Samsung merchandising, and is the father of a girl born Sept. 7 -- the smallest preemie born at Denver Health at the time. His DACA is effective until August 2019.
His grandfather applied for citizenship in the 1990s and still hasn’t heard back, Garcia said.
“What do you do if you came here at 2 to 3 years old, and someone told you to go back to a country you don’t even know?” he asked.”
Maria Guerrero-Olvera came to the U.S. in 1996 and didn’t know she was undocumented until she was 15, when she couldn’t get her learner’s permit.
In the years since, DACA has allowed her to get her driver’s license and she became a mother in 2013.
Her daughter was diagnosed with a benign tumor in 2016.
“As a single parent, you’re just there at the hospital by yourself,” she said. “You have one kid, and then another one, and you don’t know what to do or who to talk to.”
“I want the best for my kids no matter what it takes – even if it means to be away from them for a little bit,” she said.
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