Thursday is deadline for “Dreamers” to renew immigration status

(WTNH) — The clock is ticking for some 48,000 “Dreamers” – undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. Oct. 5 is the deadline to renew their immigration status.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, is an Obama-era program that protected Dreamers from deportation. Now that it is winding down, many Dreamers are worried about what this will mean for them.

Vania Galicia is a freshman at Eastern Connecticut State University. Her parents brought her here from Mexico when she was three years old.

“I do feel full American sometimes because this is where I grew up,” she said.

Her parents are still undocumented, but she and her brother and sister are protected under DACA. Though Thursday was the deadline for Dreamers like Galicia to renew their immigration status, she did not renew hers.

“My DACA does not expire until 2019, so that’s why I was not able to renew,” she said.

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The Trump administration announced last month it was doing away with DACA and will phase it out over the next six months. The future for 800,000 Dreamers is uncertain. President Trump has at times expressed sympathy for them.

“I have a great heart for the folks we’re talking about, a great love for them,” Trump said.

The deadline prompted rallies across the country, as well as responses from Democratic and Republican leaders.

“These are families and individuals who have invested in this country,” said Senator Kamala Harris of California, a Democrat.

“Any potential DACA agreement has to include robust border security, and by that I don’t mean a wall,” said Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican.

With all that uncertainty, Dreamers like Galicia are worried. They’re hoping Congress will act before the March 5 deadline.

“It is scary, a bit,” said Galicia. “Obviously it does put a bit of anxiousness and fear on us, but we want to continue to persevere and fight.”

Many Dreamers, including Galicia, are now pushing for a clean DREAM Act, which they hope will protect all undocumented immigrants.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro will host a roundtable discussion on the status of DACA and a DREAM Act in New Haven on Friday.