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DACA supporters gather in prayer outside Arizona capitol ahead of Supreme Court vote

Posted at 5:48 AM, Nov 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-12 08:22:28-05

Among the signs held outside Arizona's State capitol Monday, one read "Together for DACA."

At least a dozen men and women stood outside, praying, ahead of the beginning of a high-stakes vote by the United Stated Supreme Court. It is up to the court to decide whether or not to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“Worried is an understatement," said Yunuen Ramirez. "I feel like terrified is a better word for it.”

Ramirez and several other students at Mesa Community College signed up for DACA at 15 years old - hoping to pave a future for themselves in the states.

President Barack Obama introduced the program in 2012, but admitted it was a "temporary stop gap measure," not a permanent fix.

In September of 2017, President Trump announced he was ending DACA after Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued the program was unconstitutional. The program's termination would mean the legal status more than 600,000 DACA recipients would be stripped.

"What are we going to do next?" said Angelica Pacheco. "Am I gonna be able to do my plan achieve my goals and dreams?"

Pacheco's a freshman, studying to become a nurse. She says if DACA disappears, she will not be able to get her nursing license, have a driver license or a social security number.

“It’s still scary to know that my future could be in the hands of these legislators and they can just let it go bye-bye," she added.

In June of 2019, the Supreme Court announced it would hear the case, after receiving three separate legal challenges. The bigger question though: will Dreamers be deported as a result?

Ken Cuccinelli, Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services said if DACA ended, its recipients would in turn "join the ranks of millions of people" living in the US illegally. He emphasized authorities have prioritized deporting immigrants with criminal histories, but said it's possible DACA recipients could be deported too.

"We don't technically know if you're gonna be deported right away, what we know is that you're eligible for deportation," said Jose Patino.

He says many DACA recipients are worried personal information, including addresses, date of birth, even fingerprints they submitted for their DACA protection could be used for deportation purposes.

"It feels like everything my parents work for, everything I saw them struggle with or sacrifice, the sacrifices I’ve made are just going to be for nothing," said Ramirez.

The Supreme Court likely won't make a decision on the program's fate until January of 2020.