MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Nearly 800,000 Illegal immigrants fear deportation as they wait for a decision by President Donald Trump. "Dreamers" receive work permits and deportation relief through the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program since it was created by former President Barack Obama in 2012.
Although Trump made a campaign promise to get rid of the program, he seems to have had a change of heart. Now he's getting backlash from those opposed to DACA.
Of the 800-thousand DACA recipients, about 13,000 are right here in Tennessee.
Local DACA recipients are holding a vigil Monday night in downtown Memphis. We met with a local DACA student who came to the United States when she was 5-years-old, and has been fighting for a better life ever since.
"These are my people and I want all of us to succeed. And we all have our dreams and we all have aspirations,” says Aylin Lozano. "We're not criminals or like just people living off the country.”
Lozano is a freshman at Christian Brothers University. Her parents left Mexico City and moved to America when she was five. Lozano is allowed to stay in the U.S. as a DACA recipient.
"I'm able to just live life freely,” says Lozano.
Under the DACA Program, illegal immigrants can apply for a work permit every two years if they meet certain criteria, such as being in the country before the age of 16 and maintaining a clean record.
"They were children when they came,” says Gina John with Latino Memphis. “They're just trying to further their education for their dreams their parents’ dreams and that's why they're here."
President Donald Trump is expected to make an announcement Tuesday that he's doing away with the program. DACA recipients like Lozano are terrified they'll be kicked out of the country.
"These people are like holding your life in their hands. At any moment, they can drop you,” says Lozano. "In the pledge of allegiance it says and justice for all. Isn't what this country is founded on justice for all? So, I just want people to keep in mind that.”
"They're part of the economy, so that's billions of dollars that will be lost,” says John.
Monday’s vigil begins at 6:30 p.m. in front of the federal building. The purpose, DACA recipients say, is to humanize the situation.