WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Omar Hernandez is one of more than 29,000 DACA recipients in North Carolina, whose education and professional lives are threatened if the Trump administration eliminates the program.
Hernandez was brought to the country when he was 3-years-old by his single mother with hopes of escaping the violence and lack of employment in Mexico.
“We want people to know that we’re here to live a better life,” he says. “We’re not here to destroy lives or sell drugs… That’s the reason why we left Mexico.”
A senior Computer Science major at Winston-Salem State University, the 21-year-old fears his dream of becoming a programmer may be cut short.
“I guess my entire future is on the line right now,” Hernandez adds. “It’s kind of like a huge roadblock is just gonna get slammed on us and we won’t be able to get through it.”
President Trump is expected to announce he's ending the program inherited from the Obama administration this Tuesday, September 5, according to reports from Politico and Reuters.
Helen Parsonage, of Elliot Morgan Parsonage Law in Winston-Salem, says it’s not likely the program will be immediately eliminated.
“It will be phased out, so most people with DACA will have months left on their current grant and we’re not expecting that to go away.”
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According to the Migration Policy Institute, Forsyth County has a 3,000 DACA-eligible population and Guilford has 4,000, both as of March 2017.
Parsonage also recommends students and employees on DACA to talk to their school counselors and their employers to know where they stand if the program is eliminated.
Some are concerned whether disclosure of their family members’ undocumented status upon the elimination of the program will make them more likely to be deported.
However, when DACA applicants submit their paperwork, parents’ names or locations are not requested, Parsonage noted.
“Those concerns have been around from day 1 with DACA… “What about mom and dad?” I think there’s no need to panic, no need to be afraid that they’re coming to the door.”
In the meantime, Hernandez says he will continue to pursue his degree and live the life he has lived for the past 19 years.
“Papers or not, I’m going to graduate. Documents or not I’m gonna get a really good job. Documents or not I’m going to live in my home.”
Local DACA recipients and allies will be marching on Monday, September 4th, at the Governmental Plaza in downtown Greensboro to “call on congressional to take quick action” against the elimination of the program.