Licxie Flores watched her world change Tuesday morning.
She and her roommate were among the dozens of activists and so-called "DREAMers" who gathered in central Phoenix to hear the Trump administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
“I don’t know,” Flores said afterward. “I’m in shock. I don’t know what to do.”
This year has not been easy for Flores, a single mom whose DACA status was recently renewed. Her mother was recently deported to Mexico.
Now Flores is raising her 4-year-old son alone.
“I mean, I don’t have any other family,” she said. “I don’t have anybody at all that I can be like, ‘Can you watch my son?’”
Flores cleans houses to pay the bills. After high school, she took general courses at community college. Going back to school has been on her mind lately, and she’s currently eligible for grants and scholarships.
“But now, obviously, we’re not going to be able to qualify if we’re not able to work,” she said.
For Flores to keep working legally, Congress will have to pass a law to protect the roughly 800,000 people who were illegally brought to the United States as children.
Like Flores, Carlos Yanez will closely watch the situation. Having DACA has made him feel normal.
“I finally got a driver’s license,” Yanez said. “I had a job. I am going to school. I felt like a teenager.”
Yanez came to the United States from Mexico when he was 6 years old. Now he’s a freshman in college. All the speculation about the future of DACA made him feel like politicians were playing games.
“It’s all been like a roller coaster of emotions that I hope no one has to experience,” he said.
With DACA ending, so-called DREAMers have a huge sense of urgency to pressure Congress for comprehensive immigration reform, Yanez said.
“I’m in a state of emergency,” he said. “It’s like survival. It’s fight or flight.”
For the better part of a week, activists had protested the anticipated end of DACA at the Phoenix headquarters of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
They marched to ICE again Tuesday morning, where attorney Ray Ybarra Maldonado was among a handful of people who addressed the crowd.
“We have the opportunity now to create a mass social movement that we haven’t seen in the last 20 years in this country,” he said.
A member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Ybarra Maldonado said DACA recipients did not get a chance to legally challenge the decision to end the program, which could lead to a lawsuit based on due process rights.
“I think we’re going to see something coming down the road in the very near future,” he said.
Flores is among roughly 28,000 DACA recipients in Arizona who hope a legal challenge can be successful.
“We don’t know what to expect,” she said. “We just don’t know our future at all.”
After the march, Flores went to pick up her son. Her goal has been to go back to school. Now she’s in limbo. The only ways out are a congressional fix for DACA or leaving the country.
“I’m scared for my son,” she said. “I mean, what does his future look like without me in it? Because if I get deported, what’s going to happen with him?"