ARLINGTON, Va. - Now that Donald Trump has become president, some undocumented immigrants referred to as DREAMers and their families said they are fearful of what the future may hold for them.
In Arlington, immigrant mothers joined other community members and activists with the hopes of sending a message to the new administration.
There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center. Nearly two million of them are known as DREAMers and qualify for certain protections, including deferred deportations, because they came to United States as children. But now they worry those protections may go away.
“I was thinking who was going to cook for me? What was I going to eat? Where was I going to go if it was too cold or something? Who is going to pay the bills and stuff?” said Fiorella Mendoza, a fifth grade student in Virginia, who was born in the United States and is an American citizen.
But she is afraid of what the future may hold for her family. That is why she came to this rally in Arlington and why she took part in the Women's March on Washington.
“I wasn't marching for me,” she said. “I was marching for all of the people that didn’t have papers and my brothers too.”
Mendoza’s brothers are both enrolled in community college. They are undocumented immigrants, but are able to go to college because of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that took effect under former President Barack Obama. The immigration program protects people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
“It provides immigration relief only for two years,” said Edgar Aranda-Yanoc of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations. “People have to reapply and also it is not free – you have to pay.”
Mendoza, her mothers and thousands of others around the nation fear DACA will be eliminated under President Trump. There are still a lot of unanswered questions that remain about the future of DACA based on what has been said so far from the Trump administration.
“What those people should know is the president has laid down a list of priorities, and the priorities are focused on making sure that people who can do harm, who have done harm and have a criminal record are the focus,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
“I was going to say please do the right thing, don't think twice, but think three times about what you are thinking about doing because you never know if you put your life in one of the immigrant’s life,” said Mendoza. “You will see how it really is because you have to fight really, really hard.”
Other Republicans such as White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and House Speaker Paul Ryan have recently made statements that indicate the Trump administration may not immediately roll back protections for DREAMers. But their statements have been vague so these families continue to worry.