If Congress can’t reach a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, two so-called “Dreamers” plan to leave the country.
Daniela Velez, 24, told CNN she and her sister, Alex, “are both over” the DACA controversy. If the Obama-era policy ends, she said, “I will close my business, leave work and school.”
In September, President Donald Trump announced he would end DACA and left it up to lawmakers on Capitol Hill to come up with a workable alternative. But so far, little progress has been made as the March 5 deadline looms in the not-too-distant future.
Alex Velez’s status is set to expire March 6, one day after Congress’ deadline.
“I will leave. I will leave America as soon as possible,” she said if a deal isn’t reached. “I want to be able to leave on my terms. I’m not going to be waiting for anyone to come for me.”
Alex Velez is a Dreamer. She says she will leave the U.S. if a DACA deal isn’t reached. “Not having citizenship ... it's not something that's going to define me. Being illegal isn't defining me.” https://t.co/6hIZpE4QFg pic.twitter.com/zlqto1bJEy
— CNNMoney (@CNNMoney) February 8, 2018
Should she leave, Alex Velez, 19, would be losing a lot.
She’s invested $10,000 in her college tuition and has collected two years’ worth of academic credits in her training to become a veterinary technician. She’d also have to quit her job at clothing store Forever 21, where she was recently promoted.
“In all honesty, it is scary to think about leaving,” she admitted. “My mom cried for the first time since we talked about our situation. She’s a positive person and is hoping that something good will happen for us.”
The Velez sisters came to the U.S. from Venezuela when they were 4 and 9 years old, respectively. They arrived in the country on visitor visas and then overstayed.
Alex Velez said she didn’t realize she was living in the U.S. illegally until she entered middle school. “Most of my school friends still don't know about my situation,” she noted.
The Velez family lives in a small, one-bedroom apartment in Burlington, New Jersey, where the two sisters share a pullout sofa bed.
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