INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An estimated 10,000 people in Indiana are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Questions about whether the seven-year DACA program should continue went before the Supreme Court, including its conservative majority, Tuesday. President Donald Trump’s administration hopes to abolish the program’s protections that permit 660,000 immigrants to work in the U.S., free from the threat of deportation.
Immigrants called “Dreamers” are awaiting word if the nation’s high court may force them to return to countries they don’t remember. Two central Indiana residents affected by the decision have similar stories: Their parents brought them to the United States as very young children years ago for a better life.
“I think there are a lot of people who are scared right now,” said Marcos Navarro Garcia, 19. “There are a lot of people who are nervous.”
Navarro Garcia was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. when he was about 2 years old. “Being a Dreamer doesn’t mean you live in fear,” he said. “It means you have hope and you keep going. And that you work to build the future that your parents wanted you to build.”
Navarro Garcia grew up in Lafayette. The Butler University sophomore has a driver’s license and a Social Security number. “Because of DACA, I am able to function almost as fully as a U.S. citizen.”
“I’d like for the Supreme Court to rule in my favor. I hope they see it in my favor,” Navarro Garcia said. “However, I’m not going to sit here and beg them and try to paint myself as a victim who has no hope because I have hope.”
Abigail Hernandez, 18, attends Ivy Tech Community College. She came to the U.S. when she was 11 months old. “It’s been a struggle, but we’re fighting through it.”
“It just brings me sadness because, like, I know it wasn’t right coming here illegally,” Hernandez said. “But, this is all I know: This is where I basically grew up, was raised in.”
Megan Pastrana, an immigration attorney with the Indiana Immigration Law Group, said, “I think the mood of Indiana DACA recipients is just like the DACA recipients across the country. They just feel like they’re in a state of limbo. They’re hopeful for their future but, at the same time, its very uncertain. It’s hope mixed with desperation.”
Opponents of the DACA program strongly disagree with Navarro Garcia, Hernandez and other “Dreamers.” Those opponents want to force the immigrants to leave the United States.
“I’d love to see them try. Come deport me,” Navarro Garcia said. “My work authorization is as good as anybody’s.”