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DACA Stays, For Now

Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 6:56am
Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 8:39am
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Federal authorities’ plans to execute the president’s orders for stricter immigration enforcement do not apply to so-called "DREAMers," who were illegally brought to the United States as minors.

About 750,000 DREAMers have obtained legal status through the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Many have worried they’ll become a target for deportation.

High school senior Jemimah Lamadrid recently applied for DACA. Knowing the new enforcement priorities don’t apply to DREAMers means Lamadrid can pursue a criminology degree at Arizona State University.

“That was honestly a huge relief, and it was obviously a huge relief to my parents as well,” Lamadrid said. “Because now I know for sure that I can actually keep studying and keep being in Arizona if I wanted to.”

The Trump administration may be taking a one-step-at-a-time approach to DREAMers, said attorney Ruben L. Reyes, chair of the Arizona chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. 

“DACA may not be the first on their list, it doesn’t mean that it’s not 10th on their list,” Reyes said. “So while some are reading the tea leaves saying DACA is good, I would say it’s good for now.”

Trump decried DACA as an "illegal amnesty" during the campaign, but softened his stance on the issue after winning November's election.

The administration has not said how long the program will continue, but White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday the protections will remain in place so long as those immigrants don't commit a crime or otherwise become a security threat.

“It’s a great sense of relief that it hasn’t been cancelled," said Candia Weaver, a Phoenix immigration attorney. "But at the same time, there’s a lot of uncertainty about whether or not it will continue and then what happens to all these people who have exposed themselves."