DACA dreamers meet to discuss future in Baltimore

Posted at 11:20 PM, Sep 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-07 07:27:08-04

Undocumented immigrants protected by DACA gathered at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Highlandtown alongside supporters Wednesday. Representatives from advocacy group CASA organized the meeting to answer questions and help dreamers plan their next steps.

Tuesday, the White House announced it will end of the Obama era program. DACA allowed 800,000 immigrants brought into the country illegally as children live without fear of deportation.

"They want me to go back to a country that I don't know, that I didn't grow up in," said Heymi Elvir-Maldonado, who moved to Baltimore from Honduras twelve years ago.

She says she cried in her car when she heard the announcement. Elvir-Maldonado went to school and works two jobs thanks to the program.

"It allowed me to go places that I never thought I would go," she said. "When I first started driving and I got my license, I thought: 'Wow, I never thought I'd be driving at age 16.'"

DACA is now scheduled to start expiring in March of next year. CASA is encouraging those protected by the program to learn their rights and get legal help.

"If you do have DACA, it's very important that you don't try to fill those papers out yourself because you're in a state of panic. It's very important that you get a legal eye," said Lydia Walther-Rodriguez with CASA.

Dreamers meeting in Baltimore were joined by dozens of community supporters, including Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh.

"The Statue of Liberty standing in the harbor of New York says, 'Bring me your hungry, your tired, your poor,'" Pugh said. "It says we are welcoming to everyone in this nation and we ought to remain that kind of a country."

Pugh and other government leaders are pushing Congress to act, giving hope to those still left in the balance.

"It lets me know that together we're gonna be stronger. It makes me feel like something can be done to save DACA or come up with a better solution," said Elvir-Maldonado.