NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jovan Rodriguez plans to go underground if protections for immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children expire, giving up on dreams of a master’s degree and a career in New York’s glittering theater world.
In his fourth-floor walkup apartment in an artsy, working-class section of Brooklyn, Rodriguez obsesses over his future starts as soon as he wakes each morning and checks his phone for the latest headlines about the Obama-era program rescinded by Republican U.S. President Donald Trump.
“The biggest impact … would be being forced back into the shadows,” said Rodriguez, 27, who has lived in the United States since his parents brought him from Mexico when he was three.
His fate, and that of around 700,000 other so-called “Dreamers,” is the subject of intense negotiations in Congress this week on whether to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which allowed the young immigrants to live and work in the country legally and avoid deportation.
If the program ends, so will Rodriguez’s life as he knows it: he could lose his job, his apartment, even the ability to legally board an airplane.
The young immigrants would also not be allowed to drive in many states. Because they had to submit their parents’ names and addresses as part of their applications to the program, family members would be at risk of detention or deportation.
‘INTO THE SHADOWS’
“The cruelty of forcing them back into the shadows is pretty hard to believe,” said Ethan Dettmer, a San Francisco attorney challenging the rescission in court.
Some Republicans who favor ending DACA say President Barack Obama did not have the authority to set up the program, and argue that allowing Dreamers to stay in the United States, even though they were children when they came, is effectively granting an amnesty to illegal immigrants.
On Friday, Trump rejected an immigration plan by a group of six Republican and Democratic senators that would protect young “Dreamers” from deportation. The president said the deal would force the United States to admit people from “high crime” countries “doing badly.”
The battle playing out in Washington and the courts has left Rodriguez and roommate Gloria Mendoza, his best friend…