DACA recipients, immigrants fear for their future

- Donald Trump's presidential victory has left thousands of undocumented immigrants facing an uncertain future.

Some who are currently protected may not be once the new administration takes office.

21-year-old Antonio Alarcon arrived from Mexico at the age of 10.

"I'm about to graduate from college next year, and this is the only country that I know," he said.

A country filled with opportunities, and one he calls his own, "I call this nation, and I call this city my home.”

Alarcon, like the other 11 million undocumented immigrants, had been living in the shadows, but in 2012, things changed for him and many other dreamers.

That hope was DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. 

In June of 2012, President Barack Obama put forth an immigration policy.  He used his power, and issued an executive order that allowed undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation.

"I was graduating from high school and going to college, so it was really good to know that I was going to have a work permit and be able to finance my college career," said Alarcon

"This provides DACA recipients with a sense of security that they can work lawfully in the United States and contribute to the United States," said Natalie Renta, Immigration Attorney at Make the Road NY.

However, that sense of security has turned into fear. Immigration advocates believe Obama’s executive action could face threats by president-elect Donald Trump. They claim Trump’s hateful rhetoric against the immigrant community, leads them to believe so.

"DACA was an executive order, and it wasn't a law passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, the Trump Administration could decide to end the program, and of course look into legal challenges to try preventing from that to happen, but since it was an executive order, it could mean that USCIS could stop adjudicating renewals and could stop adjudicating initial DACA applications, which would mean they would let the employment authorization cards expire,” she said.

"It's a fear of waking up January 21st and knowing that you will not have your works permits  to stay in this country- losing that opportunity to work and to live with dignity in a way and there is also the fear of other families torn apart," said Antonio.

During the election, president-elect Donald Trump claimed he would build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and start deportation. However, he recently said he will only deport those with a criminal record. Last week in a video where he outlined his policy plan for his first 100 days, the only mention of immigration was that he vowed to "investigate all abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker."

There was no mention on what he will do with DACA, leaving 750 thousand DACA recipients wondering "what if?" while trying to get their DACA quickly renewed.

"As a general matter, we are advising people to renew has soon as possible because advocates are pushing USCIS to adjudicate those as quick as possible before Trump comes into office,” said Renta

Renta also addressed the concept of those applying for DACA for the first time, "We are recommending people who haven't applied to DACA before to hold off until we have more information about the Trump administration’s plans, because that is giving your personal information to the government," she said.

Information such as name, address, and social security number, of which under the Obama administration had been protected, are needed to apply for DACA.

Meanwhile for Alarcon, the unknown brought back memories of how life was just 4 years ago.

"Going back to 2012 living in fear of deportation thinking about how ICE will come to my house and will deport me right away to Mexico," he said.

Thanks to DACA, for the past three years, Alarcon had been working at Make the Road NY, a non-profit organization helping the immigrant community. His income allowed him to purse a college degree in which he will obtain next year.

Even though he fears the uncertain, Alarcon said he will continue to fight to stay in this country and hopes for an immigration reform.

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