Michigan ‘Dreamers’ feel whipsawed by Trump’s waffling on DACA (slideshow)

DACA protest

Several hundred marchers rallied on Sept. 5 in Grand Rapids for immigrant rights following the White House’s declaration that it will be rescinding the DACA program for young immigrants. SLIDESHOW: Click or swipe to meet the Michigan 'dreamers.'

Daniel Caracheo

“Getting DACA in exchange for funding the wall; we don’t stand for that. To go through with a deal like this, it would be against our moral code. I’m still keeping an eye on what Trump is doing, exactly what are his motives.” Meet Daniel


“If Trump is willing to do something, that’s good. That’s where the hope would come in. When something  is done, that’s when I will know that I am safe to stay here.” Meet Monserrat


“I do feel more positive right now, with Trump working with the Democrats. But we have to keep pushing on this. With Trump, I think it’s either the flavor of the week or somebody at the moment who influences him. A month from now I don’t know who he’s going to be talking to.” Meet Juan

“I think this is a step in the right direction. I think the doors of opportunity are beginning to open once again. I'll be wary about what they pass, however.” Meet Juan


“If Trump is going to do something, it will be because of the pressure he feels from the American people.  I don’t necessarily think I can trust him to do this.” Meet Denis

For five anxious West Michigan “Dreamers,” the past two weeks only sharpened their vision of a future with two distinct outcomes. They are young workers and students from Mexico or El Salvador, with a common backstory: They were brought here illegally as children.

Their experiences echo more than 6,000 young people across the state with similar narratives.

Under option A, they remain legally free to pursue their dream of building a productive life in America under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

But under option B, the Obama-era program that shielded them from deportation expires – and they could be forced to return to a country they barely remember.

Bridge Magazine gathered the stories of the five Dreamers’ after the White House’s announcement that DACA would be rescinded in the absence of congressional action. In the weeks since, President Trump’s position on their fate has changed repeatedly, sometimes by the hour.

Daniel Caracheo, an 18-year-old pre-med student, said it was DACA that gave him the confidence to make long-term plans – to dream.

“Now,” he said, “I am back to thinking in days about what my next step will be.”

How many Michigan ‘Dreamers’

Michigan has about 6,400 so-called Dreamers seeking to stay in the U.S. Here’s how that compares with top states, California and Texas, and Midwest neighbors:

  • California 222,795
  • Texas 124,300
  • Illinois 42,376
  • Indiana 9,480
  • Wisconsin 7,565
  • Michigan 6,430
  • Minnesota 6,255
  • Ohio 4,442

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

On Sept. 5, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration would accept no new DACA applicants after that day. Recipients with a permit set to expire before March 5, 2018, could apply for a two-year renewal if they apply by Oct. 5.

It would effectively end a program launched by President Obama in 2012 by executive order to allow undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before age 16 ‒ and who lived here since 2007 ‒ to remain under a renewable two-year permit. There were nearly 800,000 U.S. immigrants with DACA permits as of March.

By statement and tweet, Trump has added confusion to this issue. He said in a 2016 campaign event he would “immediately terminate” the program. But after the Sessions announcement, Trump challenged Congress to legalize the program, tweeting, “If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!”

He later tweeted that DACA immigrants “have nothing to worry about — No action!”

Now the president says he is working with Democrats to continue the program, perhaps tied to funding to bolster border security. House GOP Speaker Paul Ryan said there was no such agreement among Republicans.

All of which has left the five DACA permit holders bewildered, yet determined.

“The dream,” said Juan Palacios, 26, “is to get a goal for your life, for your family, for the things you dreamed about as a kid you could get by working hard and following the law and achieving that goal.”

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Kevin Grand
Tue, 09/19/2017 - 11:26am

And what of the other side of the equation?

I have yet to hear even one of these "Dreamers" explain to those people who have gone through the legal process of becoming an American (the monetary costs, the interviews, background checks, the testing), on why they should be allowed to cut in line because their parents screwed up and brought them here to America illegally.

That should make for an interesting read.

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 3:36pm

If not address why they 'deserve' more than those who followed the process/law, I am surprised and disappoint that at least the advocates haven't been trying to develop new/innovative ways to address the concerns of those emphasizing due process/the law.

It seems they are so selfish that it is only what they make no effort to understand or address others concerns. It seems they would rather tear down what has built a land of liberty to simply feel good about themselves.

I have yet to hear one for giving residency right s to illegals ask what are others concerns and how they would suggest helping those targeted by DACA. The working together of people with different perspectives is the best chance for helping many if not all of the children, but it appears the proponents of DACA have no interest in trying that.

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 4:15pm

Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor <br>

were just preparing to do a little research about this.<br>

We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I <br>

learned more clear from this post. I'm very glad to see such fantastic information being shared freely <br>

out there.<br>


My site <a href="http://thegioivatlieu.net/san-pham/phu-kien/vit-ban-tam-cemboard.html">t...

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 12:46pm

Do illegal immigrants have rights?

Tom Urich
Wed, 09/20/2017 - 4:09am

We have Justin Amash - a proven "purest" - who swears by the Rule-of-Law in nearly every instance when it suits to insult the POTUS - making excuses for acceptance and pity for the "downtrodden." This is a conundrum. But it becomes crystal clear when you DO follow the Law that ALL PEOPLE have natural human rights. That just so happens to be that we Americans have a RIGHT to our existence as a sovereign nation as well. Build That Wall.