Leezia Dhalla is spending her days glued to the news, anxiously waiting for President Trump finally to announce whether he will kill the program that has protected her and nearly 800,000 other young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Trump is considering ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, a program he inherited from President Barack Obama that allows DREAMERS — immigrants illegally brought to the United States as children — to remain.
After weeks of speculation over the future of the program, Trump told reporters Friday that “We love the DREAMers,” and will announce a decision “sometime over the weekend … probably Sunday, Saturday. The latest will be Monday.”
A short time later, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the announcement would come Tuesday.
That leaves DACA enrollees terrified heading into what should have been an enjoyable Labor Day weekend.
Dhalla, 27, legally entered the U.S. from Canada with her family when she was 6, but they lost their legal status. After being approved for DACA in 2012, Dhalla has been able to buy a home, purchase a car and work at different jobs. Now, with the future of her status unclear, she doesn’t know what to think.
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“Many of us are having that moment where our life is flashing before our eyes,” said Dhalla, a communications associate at FWD.us, an advocacy group founded by technology leaders that include Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. “I’m leaving tomorrow to go to Kentucky to my best friend’s wedding. Is this the last wedding in the United States I’ll get to go to?”
The DACA program grants two-year stays for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States before their 16th birthday who have attended school or joined the military and have not committed any serious crimes. It also grants them work permits.
Trump faces a Tuesday deadline imposed by Republican leaders in 10 states. The group, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, has grown impatient with the president’s decision to leave DACA in place through his first seven months in office after vowing to end it during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The group successfully used a lawsuit to block a broader program created by Obama to protect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. If he doesn’t phase out DACA by Tuesday, they have vowed to sue the administration to kill it.
“The DACA amnesty that President Obama initiated orders (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents to break the law, it also violates two other federal laws, and the constitutional separation of powers,” Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas and Trump adviser, told MSNBC on Friday.