LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The Arkansas United Community Coalition gathered Tuesday at a press conference with dozens of DACA recipients to express their disappointment in the Trump administration's decision to end the program.
President Donald Trump announced plans to remove the Obama era policy which helped protect undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. He then placed the issue in the hands of Congress, asking them to find a solution within six months.
“We are not criminals,” said Diana Pacheco, an Arkansas DREAMer who has lived in the United States since she was six years old.
At the press conference, Esperanza Lopez told us that DACA recipients have to follow a long process, including screenings and a fee.
The program launched in 2012 under President Barrack Obama and gave people like Pacheco, and many others, a more promising future.
Pacheco currently attends Philander Smith College in Little Rock and has two jobs.
“Not only do I work at the Marriott, but I also have my own company," she explained. "And I accomplished that thanks to DACA. It's an employee agency and it's called Dream Team Staff because your dream starts here."
Now, the rescission of the policy will put nearly 800,000 DREAMers into limbo until a solution is found by legislators.
“If an individual has DACA and it expires on or before March 5th, 2018 they have until October 5th, 2017 to submit renewal for their DACA status,” said Maria Meneses with the Arkansas United Community Coalition.
Those who have DACA that expires after March 5, 2018 will not be renewed.
“We pay taxes, we keep a clean record. It's just so unfair that after they've given us wings to fly and start our dreams, they cut us off,” said another Arkansas DREAMer at the event.
Immigrants across the country and about 5,000 in Arkansas are waiting to find out if they get to finish the life they've started.
"I'm more American than over there. Yes, I was born in Mexico, but I was raised here,” said Pacheco.
The group is having a community forum on Tuesday and Wednesday night at Saint Andrews Methodist Church in southwest Little Rock from 5 to 8 p.m. with attorneys and mental health providers for immigrants affected.
Supporters who want to get involved are also welcome.