DAPA program reversal leaves thousands unprotected from deportation

Posted at 11:17 PM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-17 01:17:28-04

DENVER -- An Obama-era program that protected undocumented parents of 'dreamers' was eliminated by the Trump administration this week, a move that could affect thousands of people across the nation. 

Millions of undocumented immigrants who thought they were safe from deportation are not anymore. One man in particular, Arturo Hernandez, has fought to stay in the U.S. for seven years. 

Hernandez went from living in sanctuary at a church to a surprise visit from ICE officers who detained him to finally, a two-year stay of removal in part to see his eldest daughter Mariana graduate high school.

"It's for my daughters, I want to see in the future they go to the college," said Hernandez.

Mariana was 3-months-old when her family came to the U.S., and she is also vulnerable to the changes that may come with the Trump administration.

"She doesn't know anything about Mexico," said Hernandez.

Mariana is one of thousands of young people protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows children of undocumented parents to work and study in the U.S. without fear of deportation. The program will stay intact -- for now -- but DAPA, or the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, is off the table.

Denver7 spoke with Salvador Hernandez from Mi Familia Vota, a group that helped push DACA through.

"There's definitely going to be broken families. Kids that grow up without seeing their mom or their dad, if they are deported," said Salvador.

Hernandez's youngest daughter is a U.S. citizen, as she was born here. The tough conversations are around the corner. What will happen to the family if Arturo is deported?

"Who's paying for the college? Who's paying for the rent in the house?" said Hernandez.

For now, the what if's weigh heavy on Hernandez every day, but he still remains positive. He plans to keep on fighting for his family.

To be clear, DAPA never went into effect. It was blocked by a judge after it was signed in 2014. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly called the decision to reverse it "house cleaning."