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Local DACA recipient worries Congress won't agree on replacement

MADISON, Wis. - Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and their families are facing the reality that Congress might not ever agree on an immigration plan to replace the Obama-era program. 

After months of negotiations, Democrats and Republicans aren't any close to finding a replacement. 

"Our lives are absolutely being used as bargaining chips and I think that's the most frustrating part," said Laura Minero, 27. 

Minero crossed the Mexico-U.S. border with her parents when she was 5 years old. They wanted a better life for their daughter.

She is now a student at University of Wisconsin-Madison, pursuing a doctorate in counseling psychology, but her DACA permit expires in August. 

Trump's decision to end the program means no one can renew their application after March 5.

"I won't be able to teach at UW-Madison. I won't be able to see clients. I won't be able to be a research coordinator," she said. 

Each day, 122 DACA recipients lose their status, meaning they are unable to work legally.

Congress set a deadline of finding a solution for the 800,000 "Dreamers" by Feb. 8. Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are called "Dreamers" based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act that would have provided similar protections for young immigrants. Minero wants to see a clean Dream Act by then, but an agreement is beginning to seem out of reach.

"There are people that have lost hope. There are people that do not see this going through. But all I know is that, even if that's a possibility, our community will fight for our rights and our community has been doing that for decades," said Minero.

Trump's proposed plan would give 1.8 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship, but it would also include cuts to legal immigration, including ending the Diversity Visa Lottery and family migration beyond spouses and minor children. It would also dedicate $25 billion to a border wall and security. 

Minero said this plan pits immigrant communities against each other. 

"That inherently already puts one part of the immigrant community against another part of the immigrant community, when the issue here really is that the immigration system is broken," said Minero.

She is encouraging supporters to put pressure on their lawmakers to pass the DREAM Act now. 

"My fear is that if we wait until March 5, we really aren't going to get anything through," said Minero. 


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