Uncertain Future For Oklahoma Dreamers
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma - What's next for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants living in the United States is being debated right now in our nation’s capital.
As lawmakers struggle to reach a solution, DACA recipients live in limbo.
They rally to protect a dream to stay in a country they call home.
“It was exhausting and frustrating,” said Carlos, an undocumented student.
Carlos lives in Oklahoma and was among thousands of dreamers who went to Washington D.C. 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,” Carlos said.
“My family and I came here when I was 3 years old,” said Jose, a DACA recipient.
Jose also attended the rally. He and his sister Jennifer were born in Mexico but raised in Oklahoma.
“I don't even remember my hometown so it’s like this is my hometown, I consider,” said Jose.
The family came to Oklahoma on visas that have since expired, all with the hopes of a better life.
“I didn’t really understand it until I was in high school,” said Jennifer, a DACA recipient.
Jennifer realized 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,” said Jose
Under DACA, some undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children are allowed to work or go to school in the U.S. on two-year renewable permits.
“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,” said Robert Ruiz with Aspiring Americans.
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,” said Jennifer.
“You’re able to plan for your future but you’re not sure you be able to accomplish certain things,” said Jose.
Jose wants to become a lawyer someday, but he worries he'll never step foot in a courtroom or finish his degree with 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,” said Ruiz.
These students consider themselves Americans, in every way, except on paper.
President Trump has offered to work with lawmakers to resolve the DACA issue, but wants it tied to broader immigration reforms.
Supporters of the president's decision say the executive order by President Obama that created DACA wasn't a good, long-term fix for those in the country illegally.
The Senate is expected to take up DACA discussions early next week.