Arkansas ‘Dreamers’ Awaiting Trump Decision on DACA

Hispanics and others protest President Trump's immigration policies while waiting for his decision on the DACA program. Photo Credit: shakzu/iStockphoto

Mark Richardson
Public News Service

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Thousands of young Hispanics in Arkansas are living in fear of what the future might bring under President Trump’s changing immigration policies. It is particularly difficult for the state’s almost 5,000 young undocumented immigrants who are part of or eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.

Erick Sanchez, the operations manager with the immigrant advocacy group Arkansas United, says many young Hispanic find their lives in limbo because of the uncertainty.

“The main concern is that a lot of people will have to put their lives on hold if DACA gets taken away,” he said. “The public is very, very concerned about that.”

President Trump has yet to announced his decision on the DACA program, which was created with an executive order by former President Obama. Participants, often called Dreamers, came to the U.S. as children, are exempt from deportation for two years and allowed to work.

Sanchez says they fear deportation if the program ends.

He also says his agency is hearing from many dreamers that they aren’t making any major plans until a decision is made.

“The other day, we had one of our clients, and he’s the sole provider for the whole family, he’s very worried to see what happens if DACA gets taken away, what’s going to happen to the house,” he added.

He says many of the Arkansas Dreamers are students who might not be able to complete their education.

“DACA students do not qualify for in-state tuition,” continued Sanchez. “They’re going to have to pay out-of-state. And a lot of these kids have multiple jobs, and so with DACA being taken away, unfortunately, they wouldn’t be able to work.”

Sanchez says many Hispanic youths who are eligible for the program are hesitant to register, saying they don’t want to give out their personal information. He says they fear that until DACA is settled, signing up would make it easier for officials to find and deport them.