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"DREAMer" weighs in on the stress of being in the political crosshairs

Mercedes Mejia
Michigan Radio
DACA recipient Maria Ibarra-Frayre

Most Americans say they want to protect the "DREAMers," the term often used to refer to undocumented immigrants brought here as children.

That poll was taken after President Trump announced he is phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a federal program that afforded some protections to those immigrants, and he gave Congress six months to come up with a replacement.

Three Republican senators this week announced details of their reform idea, the Succeed Act. It spells out steps for receiving "conditional status" in the U.S., including maintaining gainful employment, or pursuing higher education classes or military service. Ultimately, holders of this status could apply for a green card.

But in the meantime, these are times of stress and uncertainty for DACA recipients like Maria Ibarra-Frayre. She's with the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan Master's of Social Work program.

"It's a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety," she said. "The day after the election, I stayed home and I cried and it's sort of like this desperation of wanting to have an answer as to what's going to come next, but just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and knowing that in any moment, I could be at a risk of deportation."

She said immigration officials have "everything they need to know" about her, as is true for all people enrolled in the DACA program.

The anxiety she feels now is a kind she hasn't felt before, she said. She's having trouble sleeping, for instance, and gets sick more often than before. But she's still hopeful.

Listen above to hear what she hopes the future holds for DACA recipients. 

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