DENVER — Ahead of President Donald Trump’s decision regarding the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Denver-area activists and students are planning walkouts in support of the program.
DACA was enacted under President Barack Obama to grant Social Security numbers to some undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children.
“I think this is something that Congress needs to fix. The president prior, Obama, he was wrong in doing it because you can’t have the executive just legislate it out of thin air,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in an interview Monday.
“I think there’s a humane way to fix this. I think President Trump agrees with fixing this, and it’s got to be up to the legislature.”
There are nearly 800,000 DACA recipients nationwide, including more than 17,000 in Colorado.
“Getting DACA was life changing for me,” Monica Acosta said.
Acosta came to the United States from Durango, Mexico, 28 years ago when she was 3 years old. She got the chance to visit her hometown last year and said it didn’t feel like home.
“No. I felt like a visitor, a tourist,” she said. “It’s just a completely foreign world to me.”
DACA recipient Luis Estrada, a junior electrical engineering major at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said he feels a similar disconnect to his birthplace in Mexico.
“I wouldn’t know how to function in that society if I got put back in there,” he said. “Denver is my home.”
He arrived in the United States as a 7-year-old and was granted DACA status while in high school.
“I was able to step out of the shadows and I was able to start building a life. I got my license. I am so close to getting my bachelor’s degree,” he said.
Now, both of their future plans are on hold while Trump and Congress decide what to do with immigration policies.
“It feels like I have no control over anything because three people or four people in this country get to decide what my life looks like for the next who knows how long,” Estrada said.
“Just feeling like my life has stopped and it’s like on pause or on hold that feeling is really paralyzing,” Acosta said.
In the meantime, they both said they will fight for immigrant rights.
“What we’re fighting for is equality,” Estrada said.
“We know DACA is going to get eliminated. Now let’s put all our efforts into passing the DREAM Act at the federal level,” Acosta said.