Greater Waco Legal Services is providing help for young immigrants concerned about the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals(DACA) program which allows people who came to the U.S. illegally as children to stay in the country.
For some local immigrants, Waco is home and the United States is the only country they know. Now there are so many questions about the future and on Thursday afternoon, a local attorney reached out to help walk them through the process.
The room was full at Greater Waco Legal Services with people needing answers about the fate of the DACA program. Many inquired if they would have to leave the country or lose their jobs if congress pulled the plug on the program. Some also wanted to know if immigration could take them away now.
Attorney Kent McKeever said that is very unlikely and while the program is a great opportunity, DACA was always temporary. If DACA does expire and a person has no legal pathway to permanent residency, they can be deported.
DACA recipient Armina Gonzalez said deportation is the thing that worries her.
“The thing that worries me is my kids. What’s going to happen to my kids if I get deported,” Gonzalez said. “I just want to know what’s going to happen.”
Gonzalez was born in Mexico. She came to the United States with her father when she was 10. The mother of three was saddened to hear the DACA program was being rescinded.
Cinthia Sarricolea said her DACA expires next year, but she does not want to leave the country.
"There's a lot of fear in me," Sarricolea said. "I've been here since I was 11-years-old and never went back to Mexico. It feels like this is my country."
McKeever said what they really need is for congress to change the laws and they still need that.
“I just hoped that they would still have DACA while we push congress to pass the laws,” McKeever said. “If that doesn’t happen in the next six months, they’re going to have their DACA status revoked.”
If a person’s DACA expires before March 2018, they can apply for renewal until October 2017.
President Trump tweeted Thursday morning that those who are concerned about their status during the six-month period have nothing to worry about.
Greater Waco Legal Services
1624 Colcord Ave.
Waco, Tx 76707