Tri-Cities families anxiously await Trump's DACA decision
PASCO, Wash. -- Thousands in our community are anxiously awaiting President Trump's decision on DACA.
DACA is an executive order started by President Obama in 2012 and allows undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to work and go to school.
President Trump says he'll announce any day now whether to do away with or extend it.
Mayra Torres from Pasco has a life that from the surface looks much like anyone else’s. She has a home, a family, and a job with a local school district. But she says it wasn't easy.
“I came here when I was ten-years-old with my mom and my brother, and after a few months of being here, my mom passed away,” Mayra said.
Mayra's parents immigrated to the U.S. illegally when she was a child. But she says she studied hard and was the first in her family to finish high school and graduate from college--although not having citizenship meant not being able to use her degree.
“But DACA,” Mayra began. “DACA has changed my life. It gave me an opportunity to be able to have a job, it gave me the opportunity to own my own home and to feel safe.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, gives Mayra and nearly 800,000 other people in the states a two-year work permit and a chance to own a home, hold a job, and pay taxes.
“More doors opened when DACA became available,” Mayra said. “And now I feel like it's getting closed.”
If DACA ends, work permits, jobs, and homes are at stake for many child immigrants.
“Honestly I think I would go back where I started working, which is the fields,” Mayra said. “It's horrible. I remember working in the fields and dreaming about going to college and being able to earn a degree. You know? The American dream.
Immigration attorney Eammon Roach said he's helped hundreds of people achieve DACA status.
“It doesn't seem fair to these kids who didn't even know they were here illegally, are trying to get a legal status to give back, and now they're getting punched again once they've finally gotten on their feet,” Roach said.
Roach said he hopes whatever Trump decides will motivate change.
“Maybe this is something that legislators realize they need to put their hearts and souls behind and actually find a permanent fix,” he said.
Congressman Dan Newhouse said he is trying to find such a permanent fix.
“It's a very important issue that I believe Congress needs to step up and address,” Newhouse said.
Newhouse signed a letter today for Speaker Paul Ryan--urging him to support congress to fix DACA with legislation.
“I'm hopeful that we can move forward in Congress and make the necessary changes in law,” Newhouse said. “I’m supporting giving these young people the certainty that I think they need.”
But in the meantime?
“Wait,” Mayra said. “Wait and hope that they're going to come up with something better for us.
Roach said if Trump does put an end to DACA, It's likely that those with DACA status will keep their work permits until the end of the permit's two-year expiration date.