New U.S. citizens react to DACA shutdown

COLUMBUS, Ga. — On Tuesday, dozens of immigrants were sworn in as American citizens.

For the first time as a citizen of the United States, 39 immigrants from 13 countries stood to say the pledge of allegiance.

They are now legal citizens, but the status of many children of illegal immigrants is in question with President Donald Trump’s decision to end the dreamers’ program.

“If you remove every dreamer from this country, as a society we will hurt,” new U.S. immigrant and mother of three Juciene Baker said.

President Trump ended DACA, a program that protected nearly 800,000 kids brought to the U.S. illegally.

“It’s heartbreaking. Just thinking about those kids maybe having to go back to their home countries. I mean those are destroyed families really,” new U.S. immigrant and father of two Wilson Kemau said.

The program is over, but Congress has time to save it.

President Trump’s administration will continue to renew permits for anyone whose status expires within the next six months.

During that time, Congress can either preserve DACA’s protections or choose not to act.

If Congress does not act, nearly 300,000 people could lose their immigration status in 2018.

“I think it’s pretty hard for them to go back,” new U.S. immigrant Peter Liu said. “You know they have families and friends in the United States.”

Kemau, now a scientist who lives in Warner Robbins, waited for more than 15 years to become a U.S. citizen.

On a day he thought may never come, he offers advice for kids who think their dream is over.

“Hold on to the hope,” he said. “I believe in God so just continue to hold on to that hope and faith and he’s going to take them through.”

 

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