Salt Lake City — (KUTV) Will Pech is one semester away from graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in communications. But now he feels his degree and job are in jeopardy because his DACA status will expire next August under the new rules imposed by President Trump.
“It’s really scary that everything I know and love is being taken away from me,” he said.
DACA (Deffered Action for Childhood Arrivals) allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were young, to work legally without the fear of deportation. DACA was ended by President Trump allowing about 154,000 of 800,000 current DACA recipients to renew by October 5.
A few hours before the deadline expired, the Associated Press reported 118,000 of the 154,00 eligible for renewal had submitted applications by the deadline.
Pech said he is expecting his current employer to be notified soon that his permit will expire.
If that happens, he is not sure how he’ll pay for tuition for his final semester but won’t give up. He said he’ll mow lawns if he has to in order to earn the degree he worked so hard to obtain.
“I have paid for it fair and square and worked for it fair and square,” he said.
The Dream Center at the University of Utah is fundraising to provide scholarships and emergency funds to students like Pech. People can donate here:
Mayra Cedano, with Comunidades Unidas, a non-profit group that advocated for Dreamers or DACA recipients, said what’s important right now, is that Congress passes a permanent law that helps Dreamers.
Currently, there are several competing proposals before Congress.
Members of Utah’s Congressional delegation including Senator Orrin Hatch and Representatives Mia Love and Chris Stewart, are sponsoring different proposals that would help Dreamers but Cedano said her organization doesn’t support any of those proposals. She feels Dreamers need help, not barriers.
“They have already proven themselves. They have been here for a very long time,” Cedano said. She points out that DACA already requires that recipients work, got to school or take part in the military all while staying out of trouble with the law.
Senator Orrin Hatch’s Spokesman, Matt Whitlock, said the following about his proposal called SUCCEED Act:
Senator Hatch is working with the White House and his Senate colleagues to advance the Succeed Act because it represents a responsible path forward for people like William. It’s provides a track to qualify for conditional permanent resident status, and Senator Hatch believes it’s a solution that recognizes the good William and so many others have contributed to their communities in Utah and around the country.
As you know, before the President announced his intention to rescind DACA, Senator Hatch called the White House to urge him not to because he felt that it would put people like William in an unnecessarily difficult position. The Senator feels strongly about helping our DREAMer population and is committed to working until Congress provides an adequate resolution.
Richard Piatt, Spokesman for Representative Mia Love, said her proposal called Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) is similar to the Dream Act.
“It has a shorter conditional permanent resident status than dream act, putting people on a path to legal permanent resident status and ultimately citizenship quicker,” he said.