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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

'A broken promise': Dreamers and lawmakers react to the end of DACA

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) meets with DACA recipients in Seattle on September 4, 2017
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) meets with DACA recipients in Seattle on September 4, 2017

Nearly 18,000 young immigrants in Washington state are protected from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But that protection may come to an end in six months.

President Trump announced today that DACA will be phased out. The Obama-era program is for certain immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) met with DACA recipients in Seattle over the Labor Day weekend and told them their fight is far from over.

She called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to put this issue to a vote.

"It could happen in the next week," Jayapal said. "I doubt it will as we have the debt ceiling, we have Harvey, we've got North Korea, we've got a lot of things on the plate that are already lined up. But, there's no reason to wait on this."

Jayapal said legislation has already been introduced that would provide temporary benefits, similar to the DACA program. But she also wants to push for a more permanent legal status for these young immigrants.

Paul Quinonez, 22, is DACA recipient who came from Mexico when he was seven. He said ending DACA is a broken promise from President Trump.

"He said he was going to treat us with heart, but in reality — knowing our lives are going to be thrown into chaos in six months — it’s not treating us with heart," Quinonez said.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he’ll file a lawsuit to defend DACA if the program is cancelled in six months.

Year started with KUOW: 2006
Year started with KUOW: 2006