Young DREAMers wait and worry on the next move from Donald Trump
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) —
Miriam Cadenas is 19-years-old and still remembers the trip from Mexico to Las Vegas, 11-years-ago.
“I thought we were going to go in a truck. And then they just dropped us off in the desert and told us to start walking,” she told me.
She and her family eventually arrived here and 11-years-later, Las Vegas is home.
“I know where to go. I care about my high school a lot,” this Clark High School graduate says.
Cadenas is among the nearly 22,000 people in Nevada, President Obama has protected from deportation, in a program that begun in 2012 through the stroke of Obama’s pen. His hoped-for Democratic successor, Hillary Clinton, promised to build on the program and give immigrants a full and equal path to citizenship.
But on Election Night, America had other plans. It elected a tough-on-illegal-immigration Republican candidate who promises to build a wall and crack down on illegals, like Miriam. Wednesday, the nation awoke to President-elect Donald Trump.
“I did think that it could happen, but I really thought that people were going to stand up to racism and sexism and everything he expressed and we weren't going to let a bully be our president and represent this nation,” said Cadenas.
To his supporters, Trump's "No bully but a leader" following the rule of law. To his critics, including many Latinos, he's the new face of official America.
“Many families are scared, are worried. Dreamers are scared, are worried. They don’t know what’s next,” says Viridiana Vidal, with America’s Voice, an organization that worked to get Latinos to the polls.
In Nevada, they succeeded, helping boost Latino turnout during early voting, which helped elect Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina ever to serve in the US Senate. Nevada will also send its first Latino to Congress, State Senator Ruben Kihuen.
The prospect that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or “DACA” program, will most likely be ending, is creating a good deal of anxiety, according to activists like Vidal.
“We need to think like this: it's like they give you something. They let you taste it, and now they're going to take it away,” said Vidal.
Will Trump carry out his promise to pull-the-plug? Attempts to reach the incoming Trump administration were unsuccessful.
“Well, he said he would end the program,” said Professor Michael Kagan, who directs the immigration Clinic at UNVL's Boyd School of Law.
“DACA permits may either be left to expire or they could just be directly canceled. And then the next question we get to is, would he really move to deport people who've been here since they've been children and who have no criminal record?” Kagan asks.
The answer may lie in some of the people now surrounding Trump as he enters his presidential transition to power.
“The only indication we’ve had since the election is it does seem he’s surrounding himself with people who do take a very extreme anti-immigrant stance,” Kagan told me, singling out Trump advisors like Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.
Other DACA recipients, so-called “Dreamers,” are watching for the next President’s next move. “I’m mostly just waiting to see what happens,” says former Las Vegas resident Norma Ramirez, who’s now a graduate student in California. Her parents, both here illegally, remain back in Las Vegas.
“Right now, for them, they have their faith in God, and they’re saying they have peace because it’s in his hands,” Ramirez says.
As we wait for answers, Miriam Cedenas wonders about her future and her family's. She has a little brother who was born here...a U.S. citizen.
Miriam, her mother, and two other brothers would be vulnerable to deportation.
“My little brother always knows to stand up to bullies at school,” she said. “To now have to explain to him that the bully I’ve been telling him to stand up to is now our President.”
Harsh words, from a young woman in a very tough situation.