PHOENIX — Young immigrants shielded from deportation by a program that President Donald Trump is expected to end were battling to keep those protections Monday, while preparing for the worst.
Those who were brought to the country illegally as children rallied to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, amid reports that Trump will announce today he is unraveling it. Young immigrants held protests nationwide and had plans to it again today.
Some worry that they will have to work under the table in lower-wage jobs, while others hope to persevere or even start their own businesses.
Korina Iribe said she and her partner have been discussing what they need to do to protect their 2-year-old son in the event that they are no longer shielded from deportation or cannot work. Both were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
"Our son is U.S.-born, and ultimately for us, we want the best for him. But we also don't want to go back to living in the shadows," said Iribe, who lives in the Phoenix area.
They are preparing for the unknown, with Trump expected to end Obama-era protections for young immigrants who have permits to work in the United States, but with a six-month delay. That would give Congress time to decide whether it wants to address the status of the law.
Details of the changes were not clear, including what would happen if lawmakers failed to pass a measure by the deadline.
Supporters of the program took to the streets Monday in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, South Carolina and elsewhere, holding up signs that read, "No person has the right to rain on your dreams" and "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."
Iribe and her partner are making sure one of her son's grandparents has power of attorney in case they are deported without notice. She is getting her son dual citizenship so he could join them in Mexico if needed.
Iribe said her family also will need to figure out how to pay for a mortgage on a home they bought two months ago.
"For us, it's more like how will we protect ourselves from deportation, and two, how will we make it work for our family, financially?" Iribe said.
Abril Gallardo, 27, has used the work permit she got through DACA to get a job as a communications director for a Phoenix advocacy group. That has allowed her to pay for college so far, although cutting off her ability to work legally threatens that.
If she can't work anymore, Gallardo plans to help with her mom's catering business and hopes to start their own family restaurant one day.
"The most important thing is that we're safe together, and we're there for each other," Gallardo said.
Evelin Salgado, 23, who came from Mexico 13 years ago, is worried about losing her job, her home and her driver's license if DACA is canceled.
"It's like my life is crumbling on top of me," said Salgado, who graduated from Murray State University in Kentucky last year and in is her second year as a high school Spanish teacher just outside Nashville.
"My hopes. My dreams. My aspirations. Everything my parents and I have worked so hard for. We don't know what's going to happen," she said.
Salgado and her parents rent a home, and she helps them financially. They may be forced to move to a smaller home or an apartment "because if I lose my job, of course, we can't pay for it."
Her father works in landscaping and her mother washes dishes at a restaurant. That's what got Salgado through college.
"Millions of people live in the United States undocumented. My parents, they work. So unless they put us in deportation procedures, we would have to go back in the shadows," Salgado said. "By that I mean working on low-paying jobs, driving with no driver's license."