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Two Spokane Women Express Concerns About DACA Decision

The announcement that the DACA program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will be ended doesn’t sit well with two Spokane women. One is an American citizen who immigrated from Mexico nearly 30 years ago. The other is a Pakistani woman who came to the U.S. five years ago and expects to become a naturalized citizen soon.

Lili Navarrete’s family came to Spokane from Mexico City in 1988. She worked to become an American citizen, so she’s in no danger of deportation, nor are her three children. They were all born in the U-S and carry dual citizenship. But she says she knows people in the DACA program and people who have been arrested by federal immigration authorities and deported. And so that played a role in her reaction Tuesday morning when she heard the news about the proposal to end the DACA program.

“I cried because it hits home even though I’m a citizen. I fear for my friends, my family, that they are…all they want to do is go to school, work. They pay their dues, they pay their taxes. That’s all they want,” Navarrete said.

And now, she says, people within the Mexican immigrant community in Spokane are laying low and trying to ride out what many consider a bad dream.

“They do try to make phone calls to each other. You know, so-and-so got arrested at this place. Watch out," she said. "We try to have our backs and let our people know ‘be careful’ or ‘if you see anything following you, just be careful’.”

Still, she’s cautiously optimistic that the president’s decision will lead to a solution for the people in the DACA program and that they’ll be allowed to stay in the country in which they have spent most or all of their lives.

Naghmana Sherazi’s story is a bit different. She’s a Pakistani woman, lived in the U.S. for about five years.

“You know, I love the United States. I love being here,” she said.

She works as a lab manager at a university in Spokane. She’s the single mother of a 16-year-old son who was born in the U.S. He could be president some day, she says.

“But the current climate, the way that I’m watching things happen and how it’s unfolding, all these stories, all these different things that I come across, make me very afraid for his future,” Sherazi said.

He won’t be deported. He’s not in the DACA program. But in the larger picture, she worries about the opportunities lost for hundreds of thousands of young people, who had bleak futures in their homelands.

"That’s almost a million children who came here under the age of 16 and for them to be given a voice, so that they can actually go to school, they can actually start working, they can actually start contributing to society, feel valuable, feel like contributors and feel as though they have a path in front of them, that they actually can create a path, create a path to their dreams," Sherazi said.

Now she feels, with the decision to eliminate the program, that it takes away some of America’s luster as that shining beacon that draws people from all over the world.