SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - For the first time, President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are planning to allow almost 2 million dreamers to become citizens of the United States.
The president outlined his plan for DACA students last night in his State of the Union Address. This would impact people across the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry.
DACA stands for "deferred action for childhood arrivals." People under that label were brought here by their parents at a young age. President Barack Obama provided amnesty for them in an executive order in 2012. Now President Trump says he plans to allow them to stay.
Emmanuel Diaz is set to graduate from Georgia Southern in less than a year. His path to college graduate started a long time ago in small town Baxley, Georgia.
"Teachers would tell us to become inspired and be anything you want to be. We accepted that as part of our legacy," Diaz said.
Diaz's parents brought him and his siblings here when they were infants, searching for the American Dream they heard so much about living in Mexico.
"In many ways we did find that. We're very grateful for having come to the United States and being able to be a part of the community," Diaz said.
He went on to graduate number three in his class from Appling County High School. He served on Armstrong's student government during his time there, all while maintaining a 3.3 GPA.
Nearing the end of college, his future has never been more in doubt.
"We're hopeful with what they're saying, but we've always been losing hope with the amount of time it's been taking," Diaz said.
Michelle Lopez is in the same boat— she came to America from Mexico as a toddler.
"The past year has been stressful. I don't know what my future holds. I don't know if I'm going to be allowed to stay," Lopez said.
Both of these students now see hope. They also have a message for those voting on the legislation and people forming an opinion.
"It's not just some public policy or some political game. When they make these decisions and they decide on this, they're going to decide what the outcome of who we can be is," Diaz said.
"Give us a chance to prove ourselves. That's all we want - is a chance to prove ourselves," Lopez said.
Diaz is graduating with a Finance degree. He hopes to work in corporate banking here in the US. As for Michelle, she is graduating with an English Communications major and hopes to get into book publishing.