Press "Enter" to skip to content

Immigrant 'dreamers' – and their bosses – anxiously await Trump's decision

(Reuters) – Ilka Eren, 25, came to the United States from Turkey with her parents. She is 15 years old and lives in the country without legal authorization.

While in college, he applied for and qualified for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that President Donald Trump promised to end during his 2016 presidential campaign.

The program does not change the legal status of an immigrant, but protects from deportation and grants the right to work to so-called "Dreamers", young people brought to the United States as children and living illegally in the country. Almost 800,000 immigrants have received protection from DACA since the program was launched in 2012.

Eren's DACA status opened the door to several internships, and finally to a job in New York at Ovation Travel Group, which provides travel services to corporations, as executive assistant to the CFO.

"DACA literally changed my life," he said. "I really do not know where I would be without him."

Paul Metselaar, executive director of Ovation, does not know where he would be without Eren.

He said that his work responsibilities have increased due to his abilities. She said that she reminded her of her own grandparents, who emigrated to the United States to seek a better life. If Eren lost his eligibility for the job, it would be a blow to his company, Metselaar said.

But, he added, "it would be much more of a blow to his family and to who we are as a country."

Trump is expected to announce the decision to end DACA on Tuesday, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation, but with a delay of up to six months for Congress to find a legislative solution.

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to quickly revoke the program, but since taking office, even when he has stepped up enforcement of the immigration law, he has sometimes taken a softer tone about DACA. "We love the Dreamers," he told reporters on Friday.

The hard line of immigration within the Republican Party has pressured the president to eliminate the program. Nine state Republican prosecutors have said they will file a lawsuit if the Trump administration does not end it on Tuesday.

Many business leaders have urged the president to keep the DACA protections in place, including the heads of technology giants Microsoft (MSFT.O), Apple (AAPL.O) and Facebook (FB.O). In general, they have cited a potential impact on the economy if the program ended, although there is little government data on Dreamers as a distinct economic group.

Still, with the US economy UU Near full employment, ending DACA would generate a net loss of productivity, said Giovanni Peri, professor of economics at the University of California, Davis, who studies immigration.

Groups that support a stricter immigration application say that eliminating the program would also bring benefits.

"The end of DACA would result in a great job opportunity for US college graduates and other US workers who are unemployed or underemployed and feel completely excluded from the workforce and are prevented from fulfilling their American dream." said Dave Ray, communications director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors the reduction of immigration.

In interviews with Reuters, recipients of DACA and their employers emphasized another aspect of what the program would end: the holes that movement would leave in lives and workplaces.


Legal assistant Karla Martinez (R) appears with Chief Georgina Lepe at Lepe's legal office in Rancho Cucamonga, California. U.S. in this photo of the brochure of September 1, 2017. Karla Martínez / Brochure through REUTERS

Georgina Lepe, who administers a real estate and probate law from her office in Rancho Cucamonga, California, liked Karla Martinez so much that she hired her twice.

She met Martinez when she was occupying tables at a Mexican restaurant in the Lepe family and was impressed with her work ethic. When Martinez graduated from the University of Southern California in December 2015, Lepe hired her to help temporarily with commercialization.

After a few months, Martinez went to work elsewhere. Later, Lepe followed her and asked her to come back, this time as a full-time legal assistant.

"Even when I worked at the restaurant, I knew it would be someone," said Lepe, 30, and, like Martinez, of a Mexican family. "The difference between (us) is that my family was able to help me financially to achieve my goals."

Martinez, who came to the United States with her mother when she was four years old, helps pay bills for the house she shares with her mother and two younger siblings. Now, at 24, he plans to apply to law school, if DACA does not finish and can still pay back to school.

"Obviously I think about it and it's a bit scary, but I'm not letting it take hold of me," Martinez said.

Lepe says that if Martinez's work permit is revoked, he would "keep Karla until the last second" and probably would not hire a replacement. "I do not think anyone can compare," he says.


Chuck Rocha, the founder of Solidarity Strategies, employs DACA recipient Luis Alcauter at his Washington, DC-based political consulting firm, which specializes in disseminating Latinos Losing Alcauter "would be devastating," said Rocha.

Alcauter, 27, came to the United States from Mexico when he was 13 years old, and attended California State University in Fresno, where he developed an interest in politics, which led him to intern on the Capitol. The internship was possible, he said, because of his DACA status.

"To be able to have the documents and be able to apply anywhere, it really allows you to think beyond where you were," Alcauter said. "It simply allows people to find a job, buy a car, buy a house, move around and contribute to their families."


Juan Ochoa, CEO of Miramar Group, an Illinois-based facilities management company that oversees 1,200 buildings across the country, said his company will hire a lawyer to try to keep DACA employee Jay Meza, 23, if the program ends.

"I have a good job now," said Meza, who came to the United States from Mexico with her parents and brother when she was 3 years old. "I'm really looking forward to buying my first house, in fact, I have a good car."

Ochoa said Meza started at Miramar doing data entry and analyzing spreadsheets, and helped the company build a system that allows it to track its buildings and employees.

"We have invested a lot of time and money into Jay's training, so it would be a great loss for us," he said.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *