In the face of Donald Trump’s pledge to end the DACA program on day one of his presidency, DREAMers have been speaking out to highlight how DACA has transformed their lives, futures, and communities.
Yesterday we highlighted an array of DREAMers’ powerful testimonials about DACA, pulled from a range of national media stories. Today, a new CNN story by Rosa Flores tells the story of an Oklahoma City mother and DACA recipient named Lili, who loves America and wants Donald Trump to walk in her shoes for one day in order to recognize how DACA has helped transform her family’s life.
We excerpt the CNN story below (available in full here):
“With tears in her eyes Lili explains her deportation contingency plan.
She plans to sell her house and take her three youngest children to Mexico. Her eldest children, who are 17 and 15, want to stay in Oklahoma to work and help her make a living, she says.
‘It’s heartbreaking to think about that,’ Lili says, her voice cracking. ‘We’ve always been together.’
That’s why Lili, who is only sharing her first name, says she challenges President-elect Donald Trump to live the life of an undocumented immigrant for one day. If he did, she says, ‘it would open up his heart’ because of the pain and struggles that immigrant mothers like her live everyday.
‘I want him to share one day of having to live in the shadows,’ Lili says. ‘I want him to put himself in my shoes.’
Lili’s son Omar, 7, and her daughter Evelynne, 11, eat breakfast before Lili drops them off at school.
Lili has lived in Oklahoma City for 20 years. She was brought to the United States from Mexico as a child and now has five children of her own. They are all US citizens, ages 2 to 17.
She says she feels threatened in a Trump America because of the President-elect’s promise to undo President Obama’s 2012 executive action on immigration.
She qualified for DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program created through that executive action. It gave people who came to the United States as children a temporary stay in the United States in 2012. But her temporary work permit expires in January, when President-elect Trump takes office.
‘I would become illegal again,’ Lili says. ‘I would have to leave the country. I wish Donald [Trump] would see what we have to go through,’ she adds. ‘He has kids. Would he like for his kids to be taken away from him?’
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of immigrants in Oklahoma share Lili’s anguish. Of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants across the United States, about 95,000 of them are in Oklahoma, according to the Pew Research Center.
Melissa Lujan, an immigration lawyer in Oklahoma City, says her phone has not stopped ringing since the election. Her clients, she says, want to know how to survive a Trump presidency.
‘[For] most people, the biggest fear that they have is that immigration is going to come to their door tomorrow, pick up their family members and take them away,’ Lujan says.
Lujan says children also fear their parents will get deported while they’re at school.
To prepare for what some immigrants see as an Armageddon, Lujan says, they are spending as little money as possible, putting their homes up for sale and checking with immigration attorneys about their options. And while she wishes she could have words of hope for them, Lujan says their fears are justified. If President-elect Trump keeps his word, she says, they could all end up deported.
‘We have no idea what is going to come from the next administration,’ Lujan says. ‘And the President completely has the control to take some pretty significant action.’”