Uncertain Future For Oklahoma Dreamers
OKLAHOMA CITY - As lawmakers struggle to reach a solution, DACA recipients live in limbo. News 9 talked to some “Dreamers” who call Oklahoma home.
Carlos lives in Oklahoma and was among thousands of Dreamers who went to Washington DC in January - to urge Congress to pass a bill allowing young undocumented immigrants to permanently stay in the United States.
“We moved to the U.S. in 2009 due to the violence in Juarez. We had people beheaded, we had bodies hanging from bridges. For us, it wasn't a choice, it was the only option we had,” says Carlos.
Jose, a DACA recipient, says, “My family and I came here when I was 3-years-old.”
Jose also attended the rally. He and his sister Jennifer were born in Mexico, but were raised in Oklahoma.
“I didn’t really understand it until I was in high school,” says Jennifer.
The realization that she and her brother were living here illegally.
It wasn't until 2012 under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA that they were finally protected from deportation.
“It was a huge relief, because it gave us safety,” says Jose.
Under DACA, some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children are allowed to work or go to school in the U.S. on two-year renewable permits.
Robert Ruiz works with undocumented students in Oklahoma through a program called “Aspiring Americans”.
“Many of these students are students that are studying engineering, medicine, law but without some sort of solution for them, once they graduate they will not be able to actually go and practice these careers,” says Ruiz.
There are nearly 7,000 DACA recipients in Oklahoma - hundreds of which are going to universities and colleges across the state.
Jennifer is studying to be a nurse and graduates in two years, but beyond that isn't sure what the future holds.
“Right now, I’m just focusing on school and giving it my best because I know, my education, no one is going to take that away. I know its gonna help me in some way, having a nursing degree,” says Jennifer.
Jose wants to become a lawyer someday, but he worries he'll never step foot in a courtroom or finish his degree - his American dream just out of sight.
“Our focus is on trying to maintain the protections for these students who are already, who have already planned their future around these protections,” says Ruiz.
Students who consider themselves Americans, in every way, except on paper.
The Senate is expected to take up DACA discussions early next week.