Canadian Dreamers won’t be forced back to a developing country plagued by violent crime, at least, but the prospect of uprooting lives forged in the U.S. is still chilling, Dhalla says.
“For me, 20 years is a lifetime … I don’t know anything else. I don’t know anything outside of the U.S.,” she says. “There’s a reason we are here and there’s a reason we have chosen to stay. I have a very deep sense of patriotism, and it’s not just about putting a sign on my lawn on the Fourth of July.”
Former president Barack Obama implemented the DACA program in 2012 — as it happened, on the day Dhalla graduated from Chicago’s Northwestern University.
It meant people who had come to the U.S. when they were 15 or younger — by no choice of their own — and had been in the country at least since June 2007 were legally able to work, attend school and not be deported.
Polls suggest most Americans are sympathetic with their plight. But critics say DACA is tantamount to an amnesty for law breakers, and an unconstitutional circumvention of Congress by the last administration. With 10 states promising legal challenges against the policy, Trump announced last month that he was ending it.
He also set up a six-month phase-out period, and suggested Congress bring in legislation allowing the Dreamers to stay.
The majority of DACA recipients — 548,000 — are Mexican, with Canada 27th among countries of origin, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services statistics.