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As DACA Deadline Passes, Georgia Immigrants Still In Limbo

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and other young immigrants march with supporters as they arrive at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, March 5, 2018. T
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and other young immigrants march with supporters as they arrive at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, March 5, 2018. T
Credit J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press
Audio version of this story here.

Monday was the deadline set by President Donald Trump for Congress to come up with a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program after he moved to end it back in September. However, court rulings earlier this year have allowed the program to temporarily continue.

As Congress has failed to pass legislation for DACA recipients, Samantha Ramirez Herrera, 32, describes the past six months as an “emotional roller coaster.”

“It’s a very uncertain time,” she said. “It just feels like we are doing all these like psychological, emotional flips and turns… I’m very saddened.”

Ramirez-Herrera lives in Atlanta, where she runs her own digital advertising company. She came to the United States from Mexico when she was 6 years old, and has a work permit and protection from deportation under DACA.

Her DACA status expires next February, and she said recipients like herself are anxious.

“It’s almost like surreal that we have to like speak to each other like ‘Hey, when do you expire?’ ‘Oh, I expire in two months or I expire next year,’” she said. “It becomes so dehumanizing where it feels like we are produce or dairy, instead of human beings.”

When the Trump administration announced it would end DACA back in September, it was going to gradually phase out the program by stopping to renew applications for those whose DACA permits expired after March 5. Since the federal court orders, the federal government has been continuing to accept renewal applications.

Still, Jaime Rangel, a DACA recipient from Dalton, Georgia, said what the courts did was buy DACA recipients time, but did not help resolve the issue. He said there’s still a risk for DACA recipients whose permits are expiring and are waiting on their DACA renewal applications.

“You’re going to lose your status. You’re going to be subject to deportation. You’re going to lose your job,” Rangel said. “It is what it is because Congress has failed to act.”

Rangel said he’s applying for renewal status. Though he didn’t want to say exactly when his DACA will expire, he said it’ll be sometime this year.  He said he’s still hoping Congress will act on a legislative solution soon.

“I’m optimistic and remain optimistic. We are making progress despite the fact that we still don’t have a solution,” he said.