A group of young illegal immigrants brought into the country as children – better known as Dreamers, have made it known that they do not intend to stay in the United States past March 5, if Congress fails to act on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals bill.
Alex and Daniela Velez, two sisters from Venezuela, told CNN they plan to leave before the government has the chance to deport them.
“Alex and I are both over this (DACA situation),” said 24-year-old Daniela Velez, an illegal immigrant protected under DACA.
“If DACA ends, I will leave with Alex. I will close my business, leave work and school,” she added.
The Velez sisters are part of a group of about 689,000 young adults currently residing in the U.S. under the DACA program.
As previously reported by The Western Journal, the DACA program allowed adults brought into the country illegally as children the opportunity to stay without fear of deportation, provided that they had no criminal record, among other qualifications.
DACA was not a path to citizenship, however, the program allowed dreamers to legally obtain driver’s licenses, get work permits and attend college.
However, in September 2017, President Donald Trump repealed the executive order, turning over the issue to Congress, setting a deadline of March 5. Since then, immigration activists have been calling on legislators to expedite the process.
Although in January, a federal judge in California temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s plans to end the program.
Judge William Alsup ruled that the administration must resume receiving DACA renewal applications, according to CNN.
Still, the administration is not required to process applications for individuals who had not previously received the status.
In the case of Alex Velez, her DACA status is set to expire just one day after Congress’ deadline, on March 6.
Due to Alsup’s ruling, the 19-year-old college student was able to submit an application for a two-year renewal form, but with the DACA program currently in limbo, there is no guarantee that she will be able to stay.
The elder Velez sister informed CNN that should she find herself unprotected, she will leave the country.
“I will leave. I will leave America as soon as possible,” she said. “I want to be able to leave on my terms. I’m not going to be waiting for anyone to come for me.”
Velez and her sister told the network that their parents left Venezuela and brought their daughters to the U.S. as children, in an effort to escape Hugo Chavez.
“When Hugo Chavez became president in the late 1990s, things started to change and become difficult for the middle class,” said Daniela Velez.
According to CNN, the family came in on visitor visas and then overstayed. They currently reside in a one bedroom apartment in Burlington, New Jersey.
“I only realized I was undocumented when I was in middle school,” said 19-year-old Alex Velez who reportedly had the revelation when the DACA program was enacted in 2012 and her sister Daniela was old enough to apply.
“Most of my school friends still don’t know about my situation,” she added.
Daniela Velez’s DACA status won’t expire until 2019, but the 24-year-old student said that she will not stay without her sister.
Although returning to Venezuela would be difficult, the women reportedly have dual citizenship for Ecuador and Venezuela. Should the time come for them to leave, the duo plan to stay with family in Ecuador.
“It’s not right. After all these years living like a regular American teenager, I will not go back into hiding,” Alex Velez said.
“Daniela and I will go to Ecuador and start over with my family there. At least we will feel safe with family by our side.”
In addition to both women attending college in the Garden State, Daniela reportedly runs her own business as the co-founder of Innovated Lab Designs, which sells take-home kits for physics labs at Rowan College, according to CNN.
According to The Daily Wire, some Dreamers believe that if they should leave, Americans will notice the impact their absence will have on business and education.
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