CHICAGO (CBS) — President Donald Trump’s plan to end the DACA program would affect thousands of students at Chicago Public Schools, leaving them frightened and concerned for their future.
The Trump administration announced that it will roll back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era policy, which allows undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children to stay here.
The president plans to end the program within six months by not accepting new permits, and by allowing existing permits to expire with no opportunity to reapply. The White House has given Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution.
“I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents,” Trump said in a statement. “But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”
“Congress now has the opportunity to advance responsible immigration reform that puts American jobs and American security first.”
The move would affect 800,000 people nationwide; including 42,000 in Illinois alone, most of them in the Chicago area. Approximately 400 of the 1,200 students at Solorio Academy High School come from families with at least one undocumented immigrant, and fear they could be deported if the Trump administration ends DACA.
“DACA has opened a lot of doors for me; work permit, job,” said Cynthia, one of the students at Solorio. “I actually fear that DACA could be eliminated. … That just closes a lot of doors for me, as well as many other DACA recipients here in our school.”
Cynthia didn’t want to use her last name, because she fears speaking up on her own behalf could make her a target of immigration officers.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel sought to reassure CPS students that Chicago would remain open to them as a sanctuary city.
“You have nothing to worry about, and I want you to know this, and I want your families to know it, and rest assured. I want you to come to school, but more than just come to school, pursue your dreams,” he said.
CPS Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool also tried to reassure Cynthia and other so-called “dreamers” as they start the new school year.
“This school is a sanctuary. We do not allow federal agents on these grounds, or in this building. You are safe and secure here to learn, to grow, and to pursue your dreams, and we hope you do so,” he said.
Cynthia said she just hopes she will continue to be welcome in America.