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Government, Politics & Issues

Immigrants under DACA fear Trump will end program

Supporters of immigrants who benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program held a rally Sept. 1, 2017 at the federal courthouse in St. Louis.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio
Supporters of immigrants who benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program held a rally Friday at the federal courthouse in St. Louis.

Updated at 2:18 p.m. with details from the rally — Young adults and children living in the St. Louis region under temporary immigration status are nervous that President Donald Trump will terminate the program.

Immigrants living in Missouri under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, rallied Friday in downtown St. Louis ahead of an anticipated decision from Trump on the future of the program.

CBS News has reported that Trump is expected to allow the program to phase out by not accepting new applications and letting current permits expire. NPR reports Trump will make a decision on Tuesday.

DACA is an Obama administration program to give temporary relief to the children who entered the United States without authorization at a young age and have grown up in this country.

Since 2012, nearly 800,000 people have registered under the program, giving them permission to work, attend school or get a driver’s license.

Almost 4,000 people hold DACA permit in Missouri. They, and those in the rest of the country, must reapply to the program every two years.

Missouri began charging DACA recipients out-of-state tuition at its public colleges and universities in 2015, regardless of whether students lived in Missouri or not.

Vivian Garcia, who began studying at St. Louis Community College with six months left on her DACA permit, described waiting for Trump's decision as "nerve wracking."

Garcia, whose parents brought her to the United States from Mexico without authorization when she was 3, decided this week after talking to her attorney not to apply for a renewed permit until after Trump's decision because she does not want to waste $500 on the application fee.

"It's just a very confusing time right now whether to apply, keep going or what," Garcia said after Friday's rally. She called the application process rigorous.

During his campaign for the presidency, Trump had vowed to end the program. But he has since walked that pledge back, saying was a difficult issue for him. He called those under DACA, often referred to as Dreamers, “incredible kids.”

Trump extended the program for an undetermined length of time in June. But now he faces a Sept. 5 deadline imposed by the attorneys general of 10 conservative states to end the program or be sued.

Some hard-line Republicans consider DACA an unconstitutional amnesty program.

NPR reports members of Trump’s cabinet, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are encouraging him to end the program. Republican members of Congress have encouraged the president to keep it.

The Rev. John O'Brien, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in north St. Louis County, said there is "a lot of fear and hopelessness" in his parish, which has many Hispanic members.

"I will go to court with them," O'Brien said of any proceedings affecting people in the community. "I know that they're afraid, but we're on their side."

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

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