Politics

DACA immigrants, legal advocates worry as Trump pledges to cancel temporary residency

FILE PHOTO: Young people wait in line at The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in 2012 on the first day of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. President-elect Donald Trump has said he wants to do away with President Obama's executive actions, such as one that created DACA.
FILE PHOTO: Young people wait in line at The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in 2012 on the first day of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. President-elect Donald Trump has said he wants to do away with President Obama's executive actions, such as one that created DACA.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

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President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to revoke some of Barack Obama’s executive actions, including one granting temporary residency to those who arrived here when they were minors, is unnerving some who now fear deportation.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program has allowed  nearly 800,000 young, unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16 to live and work in the United States. 

The temporary residency is renewable every two years, and many immigrants have already renewed a couple of times, among them 32-year-old Erick Huerta, a Los Angeles resident.

Huerta said he is getting ready to renew his deferred action in a couple of months after renewing it twice before. But this time around, following Tuesday's election of Trump to the presidency, Huerta is feeling a little jittery. 

“The worst case scenario thinking is, since we are all in the this database, are we going to be targeted first?" he said. "Are we going to be left alone?  It’s that ambiguity of, like, we are in the system, we are out there. We are the most exposed.”
 
Such was the chance that the young immigrants now under DACA accepted when they applied for the program. With Trump saying he'll do away with programs like DACA and deport people who are in the U.S. illegally, those now in the program worry they will be targeted and forced to leave the country.

Some legal providers that work with immigrants have the same concern, including Daniel Sharp, legal director of the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles.  
 
“By and large, we are going to be very hesitant about potentially putting forward any new DACA applications...," Sharp said. 

But Angelica Salas, who directs the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said the program's not over until it’s over and has different advice for those applying for DACA.

"We are telling them to proceed, because the program is still in effect," Salas said.

Salas says at least for people who are already in the application pipeline, her organization is encouraging them to keep going. She added it’s too soon to know what a Trump administration will do with the program — it could cancel DACA altogether or simply close it to new applicants.

Salas said her group is providing brand new applicants with as much information as possible so they can decide whether to move forward.
 
Huerta said he's going ahead with a renewal of his temporary status while hoping for the best and bracing for the worst. But he said he’s not going back to Mexico. He’s lived in the U.S. since he was 7.