Nebraskans react to DACA announcement

Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-05 18:13:12-04

The White House announced Tuesday it is ending the Obama administration order called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as "DACA."     

That means children - brought to this country illegally by their parents - will lose protection from deportation in the next six months.

The move affects 800,000 young people.

There is a firestorm of reaction and calls for Congress to step in and take action to extend the program.

Here in Nebraska there are questions about the future of three-thousand "dreamers" living in the state. 

"This morning I woke up unsure of what today was going to bring. I am mad and I'm sad but I'm not going to let that get to me," said Zaida Mendez, a DACA program recipient.  

Raw emotion in Lincoln today from supporters of DACA, many of which who are dreamers. Thanks to the Obama-era program, these young people can go to college, hold jobs and pay taxes in Nebraska communities.

"As someone who got here as a year old, that's all i ever wanted to do," said Mendez. "I came here knowing I wanted something better for myself and my parents as well."  

But their future is uncertain. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson is one of 10 state attorneys general who threatened a lawsuit to end DACA. 

"This just seems so heartless to just come out and say no that's over, we're going to separate families - it just seems so cruel and wrong," said Martin Wells, a DACA supporter.

According to the Center of American Progress, Nebraska would lose 150 billion in GDP if dreamers are removed from the workforces. 

Representatives from organizations including-  Nebraska Appleseed and Justice for our Neighbors - urged DACA recipients to get legal counsel.

"Some people think it's letting illegals or undocumented people just do whatever they want but it's not like that," said Mendez. 

"It just scares me that this is going to happen to these kids," said Carol Wells, DACA supporter.

"I just hope Congress and the people of the United States come together and fight for us and join us in the journey because in the end we're all just humans," said Erick Lopez, DACA recipient.  

Many of the speakers today urged people to get active and show their support for DACA by contacting state lawmakers to share why the DACA program is important to them.