DENVER (CBS4)– Thousands of Coloradans are at risk of losing work permits and protection from deportation if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, is eliminated.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, state lawmakers and dozens of young immigrants and activists urged President Donald Trump on Friday to keep federal protections for immigrant children whose parents brought them to the U.S. illegally.
Mr. Trump is facing increasing pressure from CEOs, Roman Catholic bishops, celebrities and a national mobilization effort as he weighs eliminating an Obama-era program that shields young immigrants from deportation.
The last-ditch effort has taken on greater urgency in recent days amid reports that the White House may end the program as soon as Friday. It as later revealed that Pres. Trump will make his decision on DREAMERS and announce it on Tuesday, the day after the Labor Day holiday weekend.
President Barack Obama in 2012 created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that has allowed nearly 800,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children to remain in the U.S. and legally work.
If DACA is eliminated, 17,000 Coloradans are at risk of losing their work permits.
Hickenlooper, Democratic House Speaker Crisanta Duran and others spoke in favor of the program, known as DACA, at the state capitol. Several immigrants spoke of uncertainty they were experiencing as Trump decided whether to extend the program, enacted by executive order by Obama.
“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was more than just a work permit, it was an avenue for me and others like myself, to get another opportunity. It was a step out of the shadows, realizing what it is like to live without fear and it felt good. And I’m not going back to that,” said DACA recipient Salvador Hernandez.
Hickenlooper urged Congress to act on immigration reform. Pending legislation would provide a path toward permanent legal status for the nearly 800,000 people brought to the U.S. as children without authorization.
“Congress has still yet to agree on how to fix our broken immigration system. Law-abiding DREAMERS deserve the chance to realize their potential in the only country they’ve ever known,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Trump railed against the Obama program on the campaign trail, calling it illegal “amnesty.” He later said it’s been one of the most difficult issues he’s dealt with.
Republican officials from 10 states have threatened to bring a lawsuit to stop the program, giving the Trump administration a Sept. 5 deadline to act.
To qualify, immigrants must have no criminal records and proof that they were brought to the U.S. before they reached age 16. Their work permits and protection from deportation must be renewed every two years.