President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program gave about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children the opportunity to come out of the shadows and legally work and study. DACA allowed Dreamers to build their lives without fear of getting deported for five years, but now President Trump has announced he is ending the program.
Trump has given representatives and senators a six-month window to enact legislation protecting undocumented youth, but it's unclear whether that will be possible in the Republican-controlled Congress. In the meantime, Dreamers across the country fear what will happen after the six months are up.
And while Trump has said he has "great love" for DACA recipients and is urging Congress to take action, others like Obama have said the current lawmakers' decision is ultimately "about basic decency."
"This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated," he wrote in a statement. "It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be."
Before Trump's decision was announced Tuesday, we spoke with DACA recipients to find out their stories and why they consider themselves to be Americans in every way except on paper.
Ahead, six women explain what it's like to be a Dreamer in the era of Trump. We will continue to roll out their stories in full this week.
"I want President Trump to know that people like me...we've helped make America great. I relocated to the mountains of New Hampshire, where no engineer wanted to go, and I made manufacturing improvements there. If Trump's goal is to improve this nation, to bring more jobs, then getting rid of some of us who are willing to do those things is not going to be good for the country.
"We’re people that have been shaped to think outside the box, so we bring great things to the job market and we’re some of the most hardworking people you’ll ever meet. If we could go back in time, and had the chance to come the right way, we would have done it the right way. But when you’re a minor, you can’t."
— María J., 34, a Dreamer from Mexico
Read María's story here.
"I will essentially lose everything. I don't know what will happen — it's all terrifying at the moment. I could be separated from my loved ones. I could be separated from my mother, my brother, my boyfriend, from the people that I love the most. I could lose my entire career, my apartment, everything that I've built.
"For all intents and purposes, I am an American. I've been here my whole life. There's so many Dreamers who are accomplishing so much and doing so much for their communities, making this country what it is: amazing. So Trump, you're not going to take away my dreams and my future."
— Mariana Bellot-Flores, 27, a Dreamer from Bolivia
"I grew up here, and the culture here is the only culture I really identify with. I just can't imagine living somewhere else; it would almost feel like I am a refugee. I don't really know a life outside of the one that I've had here.
"You've walked past me and other Dreamers on the street a million times. You talk to us every day. You shake hands with us in meetings. We're young professionals...we are people who grew up here. And...we don't have our status stamped on our foreheads, so you don't know who we are. We need you to realize we're people, too. We bring value to this country."
— Jan A., 26, a Dreamer from Iran
Read Jan's story here.
"DACA gave me hope. I wouldn't have the job I have now without that work authorization. It changed me in a lot of ways — it gave me things to look forward to. Not only for me, but for 800,000 other immigrants.
"You can pardon Arpaio, who committed unconstitutional crimes, but you want to take all these kids that don't know any better and send them all away? I think that's cruel, inhumane, and not fair. You always hear the news about all these DACA kids who are brilliant people — and I don't mean any offense towards them, I'm extremely proud of them — but what makes me less of a human being than a Harvard or Yale graduate? I'm looked down on because I have a kid, and I stay at home, and I work. We should all be treated the same, and [this administration] should realize that all we know is the United States of America."
— Beatriz dos Reis, 20, a Dreamer from Brazil
Read Beatriz's story here.
"Support us. We're not criminals. We went to school, we followed the rules that we were supposed to. We haven't done anything to take away the jobs of U.S. citizens. Look at the contributions we have made to this country, our ability to give back to the community. People like me don't even have a place to go.
"If someone asked me today, I would say that a miracle happened to me in 2012. But tomorrow, my answer would be different."
— Jinal T., 32, a Dreamer from India
"All of a sudden, we saw ourselves with a work permit. All of a sudden, we saw ourselves with a valid driver's license. All of a sudden, going to college didn't seem that foreboding, because we didn't have to disclose that we were undocumented and face discrimination. From being totally unprotected, we saw each other sort-of protected. Our lives changed.
"Everyone deserves the chance to be a human being and be able to thrive infinitely. And I say infinitely because people like us, undocumented people, we thrive regardless of status."
— Karla Estrada, 26, a Dreamer from Mexico