‘It’s a scary emotion at the same time,’ Oklahoma DACA participants await decision

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OKLAHOMA CITY - President Donald Trump is leaning towards ending an Obama-era program which has protected thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

The Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals ('DACA') program was announced in 2012. While participating in the program is not a direct pathway to citizenship, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, a group often described as Dreamers, would be protected from deportation for two years and then be eligible for renewal.

As of March 2017, nearly 800,000 people have been approved for the program since it first began.

According to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump is expected to make an announcement on the program Tuesday.

"The president's priorities on immigration are to create a system that encourages legal immigration and benefits our economy and American workers," Huckabee Sanders said in a past press conference.

NBC News reports Trump is leaning towards ending DACA with a six-month delay, giving Congress a window to revamp it.

Homeland Security reports DACA has allowed nearly 6,900 people in Oklahoma to come forward, pass background checks, work and live legally in the country. One Oklahoma City woman, who did not want to identified, said she immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was 5 years old. She applied for DACA in 2012 and now carries a work permit, however being a so-called 'Dreamer' means living in a state of uncertainty.

"I know that it could be removed at any time, and that is the fear that I fear," she said. "I work here legally, and I pay taxes. All I do is just take care of my kids, go to school."

Carlos Ortiz, founder of Hola Oklahoma, said he is sad to hear of the possible end of DACA but he holds on to hope given the lasting impact immigrants have made on the state.

"We are here, we produce, we work in Oklahoma. When we came to Oklahoma, Oklahoma wasn’t the Oklahoma that you know now. There was no Bricktown, there was no downtown. There was not too many communities," Ortiz said.

The issue is one Trump had touched on during the campaign trail. In February 2016, Trump told a crowd it would be "dealt with heart."

"To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have, because you have these incredible kids - in many cases, not in all cases. In some of the cases, they have DACA, and they’re gang members and drug dealers too. But, you have some absolutely incredible kids. I would say mostly," he said.

Several groups, including the Community Alliance of Oklahoma, have urged public officials across the nation, on both sides of the aisle, to publicly denounce the repeal of DACA.

"Data supports that DACA has made individuals, families, communities and this country better, so why is the president seeking to strip these rights, these freedoms, these American ideals, the ones we promote and uphold from children? This isn't American, and to demonstrate this, the majority of Americans support DACA. We urge the Trump administration to not allow the few to silence the voices of many who support DACA," said alliance president Maurianna Adams in a statement.

The announcement is expected to be made Tuesday.

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