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Utah DACA Recipients Waiting On Delayed Action From Congress


For the more than 10,000 Utahns who are recipients of DACA—the Obama-era program that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation—the future remains unclear.

Both sides of Congress have vowed to fix DACA before a March deadline imposed by President Donald Trump. Many expect that fix would come before the holidays but it was put on the back burner as attention turned to taxes.


In the meantime, DACA recipients are losing legal status ever day.


“[About] 12,000 have already lost their permits, so I think it’s urgent but I don’t think people understand the urgency," says Ciriac Alvarez, a DACA recipient living in Utah.


Alvarez says she was able to renew her status recently for another two years but many of her friends were not as lucky.


Most of Utah’s congressional delegation has spoken out in support of DACA recipients like Alvarez. Republican Rep. Mia Love joined other colleagues to urge House Speaker Paul Ryan to prioritize a resolution, but they decided to fund the government through the middle of January without it.


Alvarez worries that while many in congress voice support for recipients like her, they’re also pushing for stricter immigration law and boarder enforcement. She says there isn’t a clear cut distinction.


“At the end of the day, they’re our family members, they’re the people who have raised us," says Alvarez. "They’re our uncles, our aunts, our neighbors, our friends.”


Alvarez says whatever negatively affects them will also negatively affect DACA recipients like herself.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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