MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — The political battle over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been heated for years.
DACA is an immigration program that protects against deportation for some brought to the U.S. as children.
In 2017, President Trump’s administration stopped accepting applications for the Dreamers program that allows children brought to the United States illegally to stay.
To qualify, undocumented people must have been brought into the country at a young age and have no felonies.
Finding undocumented young people to talk openly is challenging. But one 21-year-old woman in Tampa, Florida was willing to meet us to discuss the issues.
“I was born in Mexico. I was brought when I was four, back in November of 2004. I was brought with my mom, my sister, some uncles, and cousins,” Emili Perez said.
Perez has spent the last 17 years of her life in America.
She was in ROTC in high school and graduated with honors – all while living in the shadows.
“I run the risk of, if I drive, getting stopped by the police and them telling me ‘oh you are going to get deported.’ Either me or my mom,” Perez said. “I could be home, she could be going to work or anything, and I run with that fear that she is going to call and tell me I am being deported. What am I going to do with my brothers and sisters.”
Perez says she lives in a constant state of fear.
“I get emotional just speaking about it because I know what I have been through. And no one would understand how I feel or how others feel being here undocumented,” said Perez.
She is planning to apply for DACA now that the program is accepting applicants again.
Many Republicans are not against restoring DACA, but also want enhanced border security.
“I think DACA of all of the immigration issues is the easiest to solve if we want to solve it, and particularly if we are willing to solve it as a stand alone issue. So we will see how that goes,” Republican Missouri Senator Roy Blunt said on Wednesday.
Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar’s Texas district is along the US/Mexico border.
‘’I don’t believe in open borders. I believe in law and order. I represent a district and I know my constituents don’t want to just open the border for anyone. But in this particular case, we want to make sure we are helping the young ones who came here, not a fault to them, the parents brought them here at a young age,” Cuellar said.
Perez is anxious to finally apply for DACA so she can enroll in college.
“With everything happening, I know my whole family is going to be proud of me because I am going to be the first one to go to college and become somebody in life,” Perez said.
Due to the federal ruling, the Department of Homeland Security already updated their website this week to start accepting DACA applications ahead of the deadline ordered by the federal judge, but they also left the door open to appealing the decision.