For months, the futures of thousands of young immigrants illegally brought to the country as children have hung in the balance as pundits, politicians, judges and journalists have debated their fates.
Earlier this week, a federal district judge in California issued a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s efforts to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama administration-era program that helps protect the roughly 800,000 so called “Dreamers” from deportation. It is a ruling supporters have deemed a step in the right direction.
In the meantime, the “Dreamers” have not sat idly by as those in power ponder policy. They’ve protested in the halls of Congress and in cities across the nation demanding that their voices be heard.
Nearly six dozen “Dreamers” met with lawmakers outside the Capitol Wednesday to advocate for DACA protections.
ABC News spoke with several of the “Dreamers”. Here’s what they had to say.
“We fled for violence and for fear of our life”
Jesus Contreras a “proud Houstonian” was brought to the United States when he was six-years-old by his mother, who he says was trying to escape a violent situation with his father and the drug cartels in Mexico.
“My mom wanted a better life for me. A chance of life here in the United States,” Contreras said. “I am a proud Houstonian. A proud Texan. Most of all, I feel that this is home.”
The 24-year-old paramedic who helped give assistance during Hurricane Harvey, the most powerful storm to hit the mainland in over a decade, recalled the “heartbreak” he endured after learning about Trump’s decision to end DACA.
“I was so close to the community by helping people that were in need. And, that next day, I am being ripped apart from my community and being told, ‘yes, you have been a part of it, but now you are being taken away from it,’” Jesus lamented.
Contreras said that while he is not scheduled for any shifts at his job past Oct. 13, the date his DACA protection is expected to expire, he continues to “breathe positivity.”
Since the administration announced the end of DACA, 12,710 recipients have had their status expire, but there have also been a number of approvals for new, initial requests.
“I’m gonna go back to say goodbye”
Marissa Molina’s family made the trek from Mexico to Colorado when she was just nine-years-old.
She told ABC News her father was “hungry” for her success.
“I knew that I didn’t have the tools to give you that here,” Molina said her father stressed. “I brought you to the next best place I could think of, the place I had always known and stood for opportunity.”
Molina, 25, a former teacher who now manages community engagement for a network of schools in Denver, Colorado, has not been back to Mexico since leaving, but hopes to return someday and pay respects to her grandfather who passed.
“Someone asked me if the Dream Act passes, what are you going to do first? I said I’m gonna go back to say goodbye,” she said tearing up. “To say the goodbye I never got to say to a man that meant the world to me. I’m ready for that moment.”