Dreamers fear deportation after immigration crackdown

Diaz (L) talks with SGA president Dustin Stewart (Source: WTOC)
Diaz (L) talks with SGA president Dustin Stewart (Source: WTOC)
Diaz at graduation (Source: Emmanuel Diaz)
Diaz at graduation (Source: Emmanuel Diaz)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Thousands of unauthorized immigrants are fearful their deportation could come at any minute by way of an executive order.

Many have been in the country most of their lives—even attending college here in Georgia.

That fear is actually motivating them. These students are all a part of the DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Their parents brought them to the country illegally at some point in their childhood.

They fear the relatively new program could be in jeopardy.

Armstrong State's campus has been buzzing with news of a merger. How will it affect them? What will happen? All legitimate questions, but for some students, it's the least of their worries.

"With President Trump's new executive orders coming around every day basically, the concern has been growing," said Armstrong student Emmanuel Diaz.

That concern revolves around whether their deportation is right around the corner. Diaz is one of more than 35,000 students taking advantage of the DACA program in Georgia or South Carolina.

President Trump has promised to help these Dreamers, but they are still afraid a crackdown on unauthorized immigrants seems imminent.

"We're hoping he doesn't change his mind, that he values our worth because we don't want to end up in the back of an ICE van," said Diaz.

Diaz and other DACA students have connected with lobbyists in Atlanta to push for legislation benefitting them. They're also calling legislators at the state and federal level.

"No matter what the circumstances, no matter what the harsh conditions, as long as there is a possibility, an avenue, some sort of way that we can get ahead, we're going to take it," said Diaz.

Another student sent a statement saying: "Sending hardworking people away from their families and from this country is not only a detriment to society but it's inhumane."

Diego Garcia went on to say he will fight for immigration reform.

Daniela Rodriguez said she is beyond concerned because, "whatever decision [President Trump] makes could affect my life forever. My community and I are uncertain of our future and we don't know whether our work today will be worth anything because, with the stroke of a pen, Mr. Trump could take it all away."

Diaz said at his core, the American Dream drove his family here, and it continues to drive him.

"That's why my parents came, because they believe in the American Dream, and I believe in it too," said Diaz.

While his future in America may not be certain, his will to fight for himself is.

To be clear, President Trump has not made any orders involving these DACA students. In fact, on the campaign trail, he promised a better system for the childhood immigrants.

Diaz said official confirmation of that would relieve him more than when this program was announced.

To qualify for DACA, you must have come to the United States before you were 16; you must have lived here since June of 2007; you can have no criminal record. You also have to currently be in high school or have a high school diploma.

More than 600,000 students are here in the U.S. because of the program.

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