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B-N's Immigration Project: Dreamers 'Very Nervous' About DACA

Charlie Schlenker
A sign spotted at a #DefendDACA rally on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, in Uptown Normal.

President Donald Trump’s reversal of the Obama-era executive order protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation has sparked debate in the Bloomington-Normal community.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program currently protects almost 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. DACA allows these individuals to work and go to school without fearing deportation.

Charlotte Alvarez, the executive director and staff attorney for the Bloomington-based Immigration Project, said on GLT’s Sound Ideas that Trump’s reversal has led to confusion among DACA recipients.

“Basically, it means that individuals who currently have DACA can keep (it) until it naturally expires,” Alvarez said. “Each DACA grant is for a two-year period, so (for) anyone who has deferred action now, it’s currently valid. It will just expire at the end of that term.”

The Immigration Project is the principal provider of nonprofit immigration, legal services in Central and Southern Illinois.

Thalia Novoa, a paralegal with the Immigration Project, said DACA recipients have been reaching out to her since the announcement was made Tuesday.

“They’re all very nervous,” Novoa said. “Some are safe for two years, some for one year, but there’s still this concern of what’s going to happen. They want to stay in this country for as long as they can, so two years of security isn’t really enough for them.”

Alvarez said that despite its faults, DACA was often the only solution young immigrants had.

“I think we always knew DACA was not a long-term solution,” Alvarez said. “It put people in a limbo status, and whenever we had someone who was filing an application, we talked to them about the fact that this program was created by the president and could be (changed) or (rescinded). So we knew this wasn’t a long-term option, but in a lot of situations, it’s the only legal option people have.”

Alvarez estimates there are 83,000–87,000 individuals with DACA in Illinois.

You can also listen to GLT's full interview with Immigration Project staff:

GLT's full interview with the Immigration Project.

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Dania is a reporter at GLT, as well as a student at Illinois State University.
WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.