DES MOINES, Iowa -- Thursday is the last day for DACA recipients to apply for an extension in the program that President Trump has announced is phasing out unless congress can act to save it.
Nationally there are 48 thousand immigrants who qualify for DACA but have not reapplied for protection.
If they do not sign up by midnight Thursday they will lose their status in March of next year and be eligible for deportation.
“There is a fear out there that this is not an opportunity, and we really need to remind folks that this is your opportunity. You can renew for another two years” said Joe Henry of the United League of Latin American Citizens of Iowa.
Henry and the rest of the leaders in the Latin American community are reminding DACA recipients that despite President Trump ending the executive order program they can get a two year extension on their documentation if they apply.
Immigration lawyers have been busy assisting clients in filling out the forms, they say the uncertainty of the program’s future is heartbreaking.
“It's so hard to watch them suffer. These kids are amazing, I can’t speak highly enough of these children. These are kids who thought they'd never have the opportunity to do what everyone takes for granted; going to college, getting a job, starting a family, and being safe, and they had that opportunity. Watching them come into my office now and say ‘what do I do? I’ve been given this opportunity, I made the most of it, and now I’m losing it’” said immigration lawyer Jessica Maffitt.
Maffitt says there is a silver lining in President Trump rescinding the executive order.
“This is an opportunity for congress to step in and give these kids something permanent” she said.
However, Maffitt knows that's far from a done deal which is why groups like the LULAC of Iowa have been busy lobbying lawmakers in D.C..
“We were talking with a lot of Republican members of congress to do the right thing, sign the petition, to vote on a dream act that is clean and provides a pathway to citizenship” said Henry.
Henry says if congress does not create a permanent solution it would wreak havoc on places like Marshalltown and Perry.
“We’ve had a lot of flight of Iowans, young Iowans who’ve left for bigger and better things and bigger cities; and here we are with the immigrant population filling those jobs that were left behind when other young Iowans left” he said.
Henry says that it's estimated that the United States would lose 80 billion dollars if a Dream Act is not passed, and says that would be in the hundreds of millions lost for Iowa.