Columbia, SC (WLTX) – The DACA program, which stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” will soon be in the hands of Congress.
President Trump is expected to announce Tuesday that he'll end the program created by a President Obama executive order that allowed some children of undocumented immigrants to work without fear of deportation. Under Trump's plan, the program would be phased out in six months, giving Congress that time frame to come up with a permanent solution to protect DACA recipients. If they don't, DACA goes away, taking away the protection from a group that's sometimes referred to as "Dreamers."
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson was one of nearly a dozen attorneys general who threatened to sue the government if the program wasn't ended by Tuesday.
The shut down of the program could change the lives of 800,000 people around the country, and in the Palmetto State.
"I lived my life here, this is all I know,” says Nataly Martinez, one of the 800,000 people currently living in the country under the DACA program.
Martinez says she was brought to South Carolina from Mexico at the age of seven with her older brother. She was later accepted into the DACA program after she graduated from high school in 2014. Now she's attending nursing school at Midlands Technical College.
"I've always wanted to go to college,” says Martinez. “I've always wanted to be a nurse. I just didn't know how I was going to be a nurse, because I didn't have a social security. So, I was just happy to get a chance at a good future. So now, I can help my parents because they worked so hard to get me through school and support me."
Now, her future here in the United States could change. She could potentially be deported if the program is terminated.
"I'm scared because they have all of our information, so if it does end, they can find you,” explains Martinez. “So, it's so scary. I don't know what's going to happen, but I just pray to God that they don't allow this to happen."
Congress has six months to make the decision on the program. Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina--Alan Wilson's father-- supports the ending of the DACA program.
"It's my view that persons who are in this country illegally should go back to their home country and reapply,” says Rep. Wilson, R-2nd Congressional District. “I've been an immigration attorney. We have good laws. We want to encourage people to come back legally to America.”
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham wants other legislation to be put in place.
“To those who want these kids to go back home, they have no other home,” says Senator Graham, R-South Carolina. “Most of them came here when they were six years old or less. They didn't break the law, their parents did. They are part of our society. If you deported all of these kids it would hurt our economy because most of them are in the workforce. It's not practical and it's not right."
Martinez just hopes that the outcome will keep her here.
"My life is here and not in Mexico."
Congress returns to Washington, from their recess, on September 5th.
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