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Maryland Colleges Urge Lawmakers To Extend DACA Protections

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- A day after the president dismantled DACA, Maryland universities fire back in defense of their students.

Campuses across the state are open to program recipients who came to the U.S. as children of undocumented immigrants.

Students and universities are now looking at Congress to step in. In the meantime, those who are DACA recipients are back at school and are worried that their education is on borrowed time.

A UMBC student/DACA recipient sent a heartbreaking email to Spanish professor Ana Maria Schwartz Caballero, who's taught at UMBC for more than three decades.

Caballero is worried that she may soon lecture to empty desks instead of eager dreamers.

"He said all he wanted was enough time to finish his education, so that if he was deported, he could take that with him," she said. "I know these students. I know how hard they work, and I know how difficult it is to achieve their dream."

In a letter to UMBC students and supporters, faculty said they've aligned with leaders from other colleges in"urging Maryland's congressional delegation to advance legislation to maintain and extend DACA protections."

While universities push lawmakers to protect their students, city leaders are organizing a separate effort.

"We believe that we ought to be providing services. We certainly ought to be providing education for these young people," said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh.

Pugh promised to back Baltimoreans in what will ultimately come down to a move on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers are beginning to address the DACA dilemma.

"If we have legislation coming through here that is worked with and supported by the president, I am very confident that our members will support that," said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin.

Mayor Pugh met with CASA Wednesday night to talk about how Baltimore can support dreamers.

"We can't separate people from our communities, I think we've passed that. I mean, this is supposed to be a country of equal opportunity and equal access," Pugh said.

"You can take action by starting right now today, calling your congressman and demanding that they support the Dream Act of 2017," said Lydia Walther-Rodriguez of CASA.

Also in the audience were American citizens who call themselves "Allies." They're pledging to stand side by side with the Dreamers.

"Immediately tears, you feel devastated, you feel betrayed, because even though we are not considered Americans, we consider this our country and our home," said Dreamer Nathaly Uribe-Robledo.

At the University of Maryland: College Park, where at least 100 Dreamers are enrolled, President Wallace Loh had an emotional response.

"My responsibility as president is to protect our students," he said. "This is the only country they call home and I get it. I myself came here as an immigrant."

The Trump Administration did not abruptly end DACA.

The president said Congress has been given six months to come up with a bill that would keep the dreamers in the U.S.

A Republican and Democratic senator introduced legislation that would give a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants who are Dreamers.

President Trump tweeted Tuesday night that if Congress fails to pass legislation to replace DACA, he will "revisit this issue."

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