For the nearly 800,000 undocumented "dreamers" who are in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, now is a time of high anxiety as they don't know from one day to the next whether or when their currently safe status will run out.
With the Trump administration's constant and determined challenge to end the program, which since 2012 has protected individuals who were brought into the US. as children without proper documentation, these young people are simply in limbo.
"They are like targets," says immigration attorney Donusia Lipinski, of Myrtle Beach, SC. "The U.S. doesn't have their backs. Despite all the promises made by the government, they have nothing."
But it's really worse than that.
While DACA still allows dreamers to obtain drivers licenses and hold jobs -- and pay taxes, all of the Trump rhetoric about mass deportation of undocumented families must be unsettling, to say the least. While it is not currently DACA recipients who are the target of Trump's ire, there is no telling who or what might be next.
Until Trump said Saturday he would delay plans for nationwide raids, he threatened to unleash Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in two weeks unless Democrats agree to asylum law changes they have long opposed. Officials said Friday that about 2,000 families have been targeted in 10 major cities to demonstrate their strict enforcement of immigration laws.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to Trump on Twitter, saying: "Mr. President, delay is welcome. Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together."
Amid all of this rhetoric DACA recipients are faced with their own deadline. Once their status is close to running out, they must apply for an extension -- and under current law, that can last for only two years.
"People should apply before 120 to 150 days before expiration of their current DACA protection," said Lipinski. "But we are advising people to apply a little bit earlier because they don't know how long this is going to last."
Since Trump ended DACA on September 5, 2017, several lawsuits have been filed against the administration claiming its action was unlawful. All of that has to be worrisome for dreamers, whose fate could hang in the balance of ultimate court rulings. And, the U.S. Supreme Court, with its conservative majority, may well take up the matter in a matter of weeks.
For now, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue to accept DACA applications from individuals who currently have or previously had DACA. However, their fate remains uncertain, and the National Immigration Law Center encourages them to consult with an attorney over Board of Immigration Appeals-acceredited representative and decide as soon as possible whether to submit renewal applications.
Meanwhile, if Trump succeeds in killing the DACA program permanently, it will impact more than just those individuals involved. There would be a significant economic impact to our nation and our economy.
An estimated 685,000 workers would be removed from the nation's economy, resulting in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the next decade.
In addition, $26.4 billion in Social Security and Medicare payments would be lost, and businesses would suffer $3.4 billion in unnecessary turnover costs.
So what's the point? Why the cruelty?
You'd think that Republicans would stand up to Trump on this issue because of the economic impact of his effort to end DACA, if nothing else. But so far, they have not.