Hundreds of young people in Mississippi could face uncertain futures, if the president decides to end a program that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals referred to as DACA, allows certain young people brought to the U.S. illegally as minors, to obtain permits to work or attend college. DACA is renewable every two years and prevents deportation. A Mississippi case made headlines in March, when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents came to the Jackson home of Daniela Vargas. The 22-year old college student's DACA status had expired. Vargas said she was applying for another deferment. Bill Chandler is with Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance.
"And one of the problems with all of this and we saw this from the get go was that young people are coming forward and giving all of their personal information to homeland security which makes them vulnerable in the event the program is ended," said Chandler.
ICE didn't deport Vargas, but Chandler says she left Mississippi to attend college. The Obama Administration initiated DACA. President Donald Trump campaigned against the program, but expressed empathy for the young people after taking office. Now, some states' attorneys general are demanding the president end DACA. Mississippi isn't in that group. But Congress could take up the issue If the program is discontinued. Mississippi Republican Congressman Trent Kelly says immigration laws should be enforced.
"If they don't like the way they're written or think they're over burdensome or they're oppressive to people then they should be changed. But I don't think we should allow people whether they're attorney generals, governors, mayor of cities, presidents of the United States or heads of agencies, they shouldn't be able to pick which laws they want to enforce and which ones they don't.
MIRA says they are nearly 1,000 DACA participants in the state.