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Minnesota's 6K 'Dreamers' Anxiously Await Trump's DACA Decision

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- President Donald Trump Tuesday is expected to end a program that protects younger illegal immigrants from deportation.

It's called "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," or DACA. The Obama administration policy lets some undocumented immigrants work or study in America if they meet certain conditions: The so-called "Dreamers" had to come to America before they were 16 and cannot have serious criminal records.

In the last five years, DACA has spared nearly 800,000 people from deportation, including more than 6,000 here in Minnesota.

"Most of us have lived here for at least half of our lives, if not more, and many don't know any other place but the U.S.," Juventino Meza said.

Meza graduated from Augsburg University and is now in law school at Mitchell Hamline. His parents brought him to the U.S. when he was 15.

Juventino Meza
Juventino Meza (credit: CBS)

"I've done everything I was told to do, right, like don't get in trouble. Work hard. And here we are, right? It almost feels like it didn't matter. And I think that is the heartlessness of the situation," he said.

DFL State Rep. Fue Lee agrees. He strongly supports the DACA program and wants the Trump administration to maintain it.

"We have a rich heritage of immigration already. We should not be trying to send people back because, at the end of the day, they came to the U.S. because they want to see something change for them and their family," Lee said.

He says the 6,300 immigrants in Minnesota affected by DACA are living in fear.

"Having that fear, I think that that is an undue burden we should not be putting on every Minnesotans. At the end of the day they are living with us, they are working with us and they are paying taxes," he said.

"We knew it was a temporary solution to something that needs a permanent solution. We just didn't realize how heartless this administration would be with our youth," Meza said.

People in the DACA program renew a work permit or a waiver to attend school every two years.

An advocacy group for young immigrants called Navigate Minnesota is holding a rally Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at their offices on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.


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