Local "dreamer" anxious as future of DACA seems uncertain
In Tennessee there are over eight thousand DACA recipients.
In Tennessee there are over eight thousand DACA recipients. Tennessee's Attorney General has removed the state from a lawsuit against the program and is now urging Tennessee senators to support it.
This comes after months of pressure from young, undocumented immigrants who want to stay in the country. Channel 3's shares one person's story.
Richard Guerrero arrived to the United States in 1999 with a tourist visa. He was five years old.
The Chattanooga resident remembers his mother telling him he would have more opportunities in the United States. Now he's anxiously worried about his future in America.
Richard Guerrero lives, works and plays in Chattanooga like many young professionals, but the 23-year-old mortgage loan officer is not a documented resident of the United States. “I felt American, everything around me was American, but I wasn't quite American.”
In 2012 Richard enrolled under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It’s a program that protect hundreds of thousands of so-called "dreamers", like Richard, from being deported while providing study and work permits. “It has been the biggest blessing of my life. It allowed me to stop living as a second-class citizen in the only country I know.”
But all of that may soon change. The Trump administration announced plans to wind down the Obama-era program. “No new DACA recipients, they also announced anyone whose DACA will expire before March 2018 they can apply until October 5th for renewal. Any applications received after October 5th will be denied,” said immigration lawyer Brittany Faith.
The news is tough for Richard to understand. He said over the last five years this program has given him peace of mind. “There is no other country that I would rather be in. That is not just me, that is 800,000 young Americans just like me who would do anything for this country.”
While Richard doesn't know exactly what the future holds, he said he plans to take it day by day. “Dreamers and people like me know about gut-checks. We won't give up. We are not taking this face down.”
Immigration lawyers tell Channel 3 do not panic if you are uncertain about your immigration status. They suggest contacting someone for other options, or if you are already a DACA recipient, they recommend filing your renewal paperwork immediately.
“Stay calm, I have a lot of clients who are saying, I am just going to go home. I am done with this. The consequence of leaving, there is a bar to re-entry. If you have been in the US for more than a year without legal status there is a 10-year bar to re-entry. If you do qualify for something and leave. It is very hard to reenter,” said Faith.