Politics

Dreamers react to Trump's plan to end DACA in 6 months

FILE: Erika Ramirez holds a sign at a  rally in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 1, 2017 showing what she accomplished as a DACA recipient. The 31-year-old social worker credits the program for her success.
FILE: Erika Ramirez holds a sign at a rally in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 1, 2017 showing what she accomplished as a DACA recipient. The 31-year-old social worker credits the program for her success.
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
FILE: Erika Ramirez holds a sign at a  rally in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 1, 2017 showing what she accomplished as a DACA recipient. The 31-year-old social worker credits the program for her success.
FILE: Protesters gather at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles rally for DACA in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 1, 2017.
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
FILE: Erika Ramirez holds a sign at a  rally in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 1, 2017 showing what she accomplished as a DACA recipient. The 31-year-old social worker credits the program for her success.
FILE: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient Dana Herrera, 23, of Panorama City is a student at Los Angeles Valley College who plans to transfer to UCLA. She attended a rally in downtown Los Angeles in support of the DACA program on Sept. 1, 2017.
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
FILE: Erika Ramirez holds a sign at a  rally in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 1, 2017 showing what she accomplished as a DACA recipient. The 31-year-old social worker credits the program for her success.
FILE: Hundreds of immigration advocates and supporters attend a rally and march to Trump Tower in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, on Wednesday in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images


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President Donald Trump plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months, the administration announced Tuesday, a move that would give Congress time to decide the fate of hundreds of thousands of young, unauthorized immigrants. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the official announcement on the program Tuesday morning.

The program, also known as DACA, has provided nearly 800,000 young, unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors temporary protection from deportation and work permits since 2012. An estimated 200,000 DACA recipients live in California.

On Monday morning, some of those who stand to lose their DACA protection had mixed reactions to media reports ahead of the official announcement. Some said they were somewhat relieved to hear reports that Trump wasn't going to kill the program immediately but would give Congress several months to act on the status of the young immigrants.

“Regardless of what his intentions are, he is giving us time to push for more, to either wait for legislation to pass or to do something to make it pass," said 27-year-old Zuleyma Barajas, a freelance photographer who lives in Van Nuys who has had DACA for five years.

Congress has weighed proposals to put DACA recipients like Barajas on a path to permanent legal residency status. But lawmakers failed several times to find a way for the young immigrants known as Dreamers to remain in the country.

Barajas feels optimistic that, this time around, there is a chance at bipartisan agreement.

"I feel like now, both parties are talking about it more. There are more chances of it happening," she said. 

But others like 25-year-old DACA recipient Ivan Ceja of Compton are not confident that Congress can reach consensus on the Dreamers.

“To be quite honest, I don’t have a lot of faith even in our Congress that they are going to do anything of substance to really protect us," said Ceja, an immigrant rights activist and co-founder of a social media nonprofit.

DACA recipient Jungwoo Kim, a 33-year-old community organizer in Koreatown, is unsure of the prospects for legislation to protect the Dreamers, but said he is willing to give it his best shot to help get it pass.

"Congress members are back after Labor Day, so let's push as much as we can ... so we can have a permanent solution, so we can stay, live and contribute to the United States forever, permanently," Kim said.

DACA opponents, however, have been pushing for the very opposite, arguing DACA is unlawful and created by President Obama in an act of presidential overreach. They would like to see President Trump kill the program outright.

John Berry, a Tea Party activist from Redlands, said he is counting on the president to keep his campaign promise to dismantle DACA.

“Trump is a man of his word, and so far he has shown a great resilience to carry out what he believes in," Berry said. While he said he would prefer Trump simply end the program now, he'll be patient.

"I think the six-month delay is a political tactic," Berry said. "He’s trying to maybe use it as a bargaining chip for other issues."

The six-month reprieve would give some young immigrants a little more time to plan their next move. Erika Ramirez, 31, a social worker who credits her DACA work permit for her success, said she's hoping her employer might be willing to sponsor her so she can legally stay and work in the country.

"I don't have an answer as to what is going to happen with our future," said Ramirez, a married mother of two young children and Hemet resident. "Hopefully the Congress will act on our behalf."

Ramirez said if there is no relief, "I'll have to work pretty much doing what I was doing (before), waiting tables," she said. "I don't think I'm going to give up that easy." 

This story has been updated.