By Eric Wise, Assistant News Editor–
Students who rely on the DACA program for their education are worried about what President Trump’s administration might do to the program.
United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Sept. 5 that the Trump administration would rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA was established by the Obama administration in 2012 to protect some undocumented immigrants who came into the US as children, according to Time.
Alondra Gomez, who is a freshman from Chattanooga, was born in Mexico. Her parents brought her to Chattanooga when she was five years old.
“[DACA] is really everything to me,” said Gomez. “It’s more than just a work permit. It has given me the opportunity to better myself in more ways than one.”
In a statement following the announcement from Sessions, President Trump said that his decision to end the DACA program was not designed to punish anyone. Instead, he said that his decision was made with American citizens in mind.
“As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion – but through the lawful Democratic process – while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve,” President Trump said in a statement according to CBS News. “We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling and forgotten Americans.”
Gomez said that the process to get into the DACA program was very long and expensive. She had to fill out several applications and provide multiple school and medical records.
“Often times you’ll submit your paperwork and you think you have enough, but they send it back to me and say ‘No we need more,'” Gomez said.
She said that through the program she gets no financial assistance for school. Some states allow DACA participants to pay in-state tuition, but Gomez said she is paying out-of-state tuition without any scholarships or federal grants.
“Before applying to UTC I had applied to other places, but I’ve always loved Chattanooga,” Gomez said. “It’s a beautiful city and it’s been my home for 15 years. I figured if I want to make a difference, I had to start with Chattanooga.”
President Trump added in his statement that advancing immigration reform is the highest priority of his administration.
“Being in government means setting priorities,” he said, according to CBS News. “Our first and highest priority in advancing immigration reform must be to improve jobs, wages and security for American workers and their families.”
Gomez said that when looking at it from a broader perspective you can never know who has DACA.
“Looking beyond the Hispanic population, think about your friends, neighbors or coworkers who you might not know have DACA,” she said. “Think about the difference they may have made in your life, and just be there for them.”
For more information about DACA, click here.