Sara Hamdi feels like she’s been set up.
Five years ago she gave her information to the federal government in an attempt to avoid deportation and now that same information could be used against her if the Trump administration moves forward with plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program commonly referred to as DACA.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the U.S. would phase out DACA, with a wind-down beginning in the next six months.
Hamdi, 27, of Englewood, came to the United States from Morocco when she was just five-years-old. The Tuesday announcement surprised her and broke her heart, she said.
“I am scared and I know it’s been said plenty of times but I feel like this was setting us up,” Hamdi said. “They can come show up at our doors now…I don’t know if tomorrow I will still be in Englewood, Ohio with my family.”
In a statement, President Donald Trump said those previously shielded under the program will not be forced to leave the country for up to two years. He also encouraged congress to pass immigration reform.
“I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents,” Trump said. “But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”
The president’s explanation isn’t good enough for Hamdi though.
The Olive Garden employee attended a rally Tuesday night in downtown Dayton in support of DACA and the nearly 800,000 people it affects who are often referred to as “dreamers.”
“I feel like we are living our worst nightmare or I feel like this is just big test that I hope we all conquer or pass,” Hamdi said. “I just want us to be able to wake up one day and drink our coffee and go to work and be with our families.”
The impending cancellation of DACA also presents a problem for area colleges with students who were protected by the order expanded under former president Barack Obama. Several area college presidents took to Twitter this week to express their support for their undocumented students.
Hamdi has taken some classes at Sinclair Community College and on Monday the school’s president called on Congress to protect students like her.
“Destroying DACA will needlessly derail valuable young lives in the U.S. — the most crass of political exploitation,” tweeted Sinclair president Steve Johnson. “Congress please help!!!”
Other college presidents also chimed in on social media in defense of DACA.
University of Dayton’s Eric Spina tweeted that the school would “stand with our Dreamers for gifts and talents they offer to U.S.” while Wright State University president Cheryl Schrader posted that “DACA students are important members of our community.”
A Wright State spokesman said the university does not track DACA students and therefore does not how many are enrolled while a UD spokeswoman declined to say how many were taking classes.
Miami University president Greg Crawford released a statement that said: “We advocate most strongly for our Congressional leaders to work together to develop a plan to protect those DACA students who began their college education believing in the promise of the United States.”
What is DACA?
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was created under former president Barack Obama in 2012. DACA allowed children brought to the U.S. illegally to apply for the right to live, work and go to school. If approved, deportation was deferred for at least two years, with a chance to renew the legal status.