Home page main photo

Colorado Springs ‘Dreamers’ anxiously await Trump’s announcement next week

Author: Erin Prater - September 2, 2017 - Updated: September 2, 2017

Trump-Immigration_Prat-1024x737.jpg
Loyola Marymount University student and dreamer Maria Carolina Gomez joins a rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program outside the Edward Roybal Federal Building in Los Angeles Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. President Donald Trump says he’ll be announcing a decision on the fate of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children in the coming days, immigrants he’s calling “terrific” and says he loves. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

President Donald Trump’s plan to announce on Tuesday whether “Dreamers” can remain in the country left some in Colorado Springs fearful they could go from being college students and small business owners to facing deportation with a tweet.

“People are incredibly concerned and are feeling very nervous,” said Eric Pavri, a Catholic Charities of Central Colorado immigration attorney. “Because they have no way to predict what their future might hold right now.”

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was created under former President Barack Obama to grant work permits for young adults – typically people ages 15 to 35 – who were brought into the country illegally as young children.

Trump said he would announce his decision Tuesday – leaving nearly 800,000 people nationwide waiting four days to learn their fate.

With their clients’ legal status at risk, Colorado Springs immigration attorneys urged Trump to continue the program.

“These are the type of young people whose clean records, education and youth make them potential productive members of our community and economy,” Pavri said. “It seems like a real shame for Colorado Springs to lose out on that.”

He called ending the program a “moral tragedy” that would punish young professionals for decisions their parents made while they were toddlers or young children.

The exact number of people in the DACA program in Colorado Springs is unclear.

Since mid-2012, Pavri’s office has helped nearly 500 people enroll in it, and he estimated the community’s overall figure at more than 2,000 people.

They mostly came from across Mexico and Central America, and they have used the program – and the Social Security number it affords – to attend college, get well-paying jobs and run their own companies, said Stephanie Izaguirre, a Colorado Springs and Pueblo immigration attorney. In the process, they have received car loans, taken on student debt and obtained mortgages.

On Friday, she and Pavri urged clients whose status in the program is expiring to immediately file their applications.

At worst, they would lose their $495 application fee, Pavri said. At best, they would get another two years to remain in the U.S., should Trump decide to allow people already in the program to carry out the rest of their terms.

He also urged people not already in the program to avoid joining, because doing so would give the federal government access to a wealth of personal information.

For most people, however, the options were far more limited.

“Legally, all they can do is wait and see,” Izaguirre said.

___

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Erin Prater

Erin Prater

Erin Prater is Colorado Politics' digital editor. She is a multimedia journalist with 15 years of experience writing, editing and designing for newspapers, magazines, websites and publishing houses. Her previous positions include military reporter at The Gazette, general assignment reporter at The Huerfano County (Colo.) World, copy editor at David C. Cook publishing house and adjunct mass communication instructor at Pueblo Community College. Her bylines include The New York Times Upfront, The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Military Spouse magazine and Omaha Magazine (Omaha, Neb.). Her syndicated bylines include The Denver Post, MSNBC.com, Military.com and wire services.