The lives of 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children changed forever after President Obama passed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA.) The program allowed them to work legally and protected them from deportation, which led to many laying down roots in the U.S. and starting their own families. But now that President Trump rescinded DACA, what will happen to the children of these Dreamers if they're deported?
Two studies in recent years found that about 1 in 4 DACA recipients have a child who is an U.S. citizen, which means about 200,000 children in the nation have a parent who is at risk of deportation after Trump's decision earlier this week.
The future now looks uncertain for DACA recipients, who don't know whether Congress will pass some sort of immigration reform before the program is completely phased out in six months. And because they provided all their personal information to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to obtain their work permit, many fear it can be used by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) officers to find and deport them.
In a statement, Homeland Security said it will not proactively provide this information to ICE. However, the agency also said that immigration officers can still use DACA recipients’ personal information in deportation proceedings.
President Trump suggested on Twitter that DACA recipients are safe from deportation, at least for the next six months. But that doesn't mean the administration isn't encouraging DACA recipients to leave the U.S.
A memo obtained by CNN earlier this week detailed the White House's talking points in relation to DACA, which included encouraging Dreamers to prepare for leaving the country.
"The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States — including proactively seeking travel documentation — or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible," the memo reads.
Beatriz dos Reis, a 20-year-old DACA recipient who is the mother of a 10-month-old child, told Refinery29 the possibility of being deported to Brazil is terrifying. She would have to take her kid with her if sent back to her home country, which she left when she was 6 years old.
"I have a kid to provide for," she said, "That’s something I wouldn’t be able to do in Brazil because I’m not familiar with anything there."