While the budget bill signed by President Trump Friday includes a raise of $300 billion dollars in federal spending, it doesn’t address the fate of so-called Dreamers after months of efforts by Democrats and some Republicans to have it included.
The future of thousands of so-called Dreamers is left unclear. Now, they anticipate the possibility of the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, and, with it, a deportation date.
DACA students at UCF say they worry about what the future holds if Congress or the White House ultimately decide to end the program. Juan Sierra, a UCF alumnus, described how it’s been like for him ever since Trump announced last year a move to end the program.
“I genuinely had a sense of fear of what my future entailed," Sierra said. "I went through a period of dealing with the anxiety and stress that came with the overbearing thoughts of losing my protected status.”
Like many, Sierra, who said he has plans to pursue a career in physical therapy, hopes for a permanent solution for Dreamers.
“I know things will change and the fight for Dreamers to have a better opportunity in this country is gaining support,” Sierra said.
Many DACA recipients consider the United States their home, and many would experience trouble re-adjusting to their birth countries, in part because of cultural barriers.
Bernabe Soriano, a film major who arrived to the U.S. from Mexico at six years old, is said he does not know his birth country's laws nor the norms of everyday life.
“I don’t want to go there, I’m not ready to be there now. I want to make a name for myself,” said Soriano.
Although the dispute over the future of DACA has unsettled Dreamers, the program has already helped many students.
“Having DACA has allowed me to continue my higher education and not be in the shadows like many undocumented people," said Karen Caudillo, a DACA student who recently announced a run for student body president at UCF. "It has let me live up to my potential.”
Senate Republicans introduced an immigration bill Sunday night, which includes a pathway to citizenship in exchange for funding for border security and a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. However, it's not expected to enough bipartisan support for it to advance.
“It’s getting annoying, all we are trying to get is to be looked at equally," said Fernan Lauro, a film major at UCF who moved to the U.S. from Argentina in 2004. "We want people to understand us and why we want to stay.”
While there are no official figures on the population of DACA students at UCF, an estimated 80 UCF students are recipients of the Dream U.S. Scholarship, according to Multicultural and Academic Support Services. The scholarship gives money to help DACA students in financial need to pay for their education.