Young immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. illegally, again appeal to officials to extend a program that allows them to stay. Two federal judges have temporarily blocked White House plans to end the program, known as DACA starting on Monday.
That’s some relief to the roughly 800-thousand DACA recipients, but most say it’s left them in limbo. CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg spoke to one – a young immigrant from Honduras.
Thirty-year-old Ilsy Bu was born in Honduras. She came to the U.S. on a tourist visa when she was 12 and never went back.
She was 16 when she started working, but she couldn’t keep a job long–eventually her status as an undocumented immigrant always came up.
“Just to get a raise, or a promotion, I had to take those ideas out of my head because I knew that eventually I had to leave the job,” Bu says.
In 2012, that all changed. Ilsy signed up for DACA – the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The Obama-era initiative gave Ilsy the right to stay temporarily and the right to work.
“I cried,” she recalls. “It was just something that started, your tears just start coming down, because I just felt this relief, like this heavy weight off my shoulders. Now I could walk freely.”
Per DACA’s requirements, Ilsy had to re-enroll every two years. Last summer, she says, the NGOs that were supposed to help her declined to do so. This, as the Trump administration warned it would be ending the DACA program.
Without papers, Ilsy says she lost her job. With no income, she was forced to give up her apartment and drop out of college.
“It felt like my life these past 17 years meant nothing, like I had to go back into the shadows,” she says.
In January, a federal judge blocked White House plans to reject re-enrollments. Last month, the Supreme Court refused to hear the government’s appeal.
That opened the door for Ilsy to re-enroll in DACA and she’s now waiting for her new paperwork.
To people who say she “jumped the line” and cut in front of people who were waiting to come to the U.S. legally, Ilsy says this:
“That’s not how the world works. People get out of their country to survive and because they realized that their lives weren’t just to stay there when there are other nations out there where they could make a life. If there’s going to be a struggle, you’re going to have to pay a price, and me leaving this country, and going back to Hondorus, and then closing the doors on not being able to come back here, I think of the struggle, the sacrifice, my parents and my grandparents made to bring me here, and that would just be automatically throwing all that into the trash.”
She plans to go back to Honduras one day, and run for political office, where she can help make a difference in the lives of others.
Neena Dutta talks about the plight of DACA recipients
CGTN’s Susan Roberts talks with immigration attorney Neena Dutta about the DACA program, which a federal judge has now prevented the White House from ending March 5th.