The future for thousands of children brought to the United States illegally by their parents is still uncertain following last week’s decision by President Trump to rescind the Obama era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.
Congress has six months to come up with a legislative fix for those immigrant children known as Dreamers or they could be deported.
On Monday morning, Senator Richard Blumenthal held a hearing at a New Haven church that is at the center of the immigration debate in Connecticut.
Tuesday will mark five weeks since Marco Reyes defied a deportation order by seeking sanctuary at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church across from the New Haven Green.
While Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) considers him a fugitive, attorneys are still fighting to keep Reyes in the country with his family.
Reyes said he's isn't sure how long he is prepared to stay in the church.
“Exactly, I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know, maybe a month, two months.”
Marco and his wife Fanny Reyes have a new concern: what will happen to their 23-year-old daughter Evelyn and 21-year-old son Anthony if Congress cannot pass legislation in the next six months to protect Dreamers.
“It’s very hard because listen I am here but my kids are having protection right now,” Marco Reyes said.
As DACA recipients, Fanny Reyes said her two oldest children have been able to find jobs.
“They feel safer that way,” she said. “But now they are afraid too, they will be in the same situation as they were when they were little but they didn’t realize at the time.”
Blumenthal listened to testimony from Evelyn Reyes, other Dreamers and families impacted by Trump’s decision to end DACA.
"Deporting dreamers would betray American values," Blumenthal said. "I think DACA is fully constitutional. What is unconstitutional is making a promise to the DACA recipients, having them come forward and then present information and then breaking that promise."
Like the senator, the Reyes family is holding on to hope that Congress can work together to reform the immigration system and pass the Dream Act.
"Not just for my kids," Marco Reyes said. "For all 800,000 Dreamers."
Blumenthal said he plans to share the stories he heard from Dreamers at the church with his colleagues on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Erin O’Neil-Baker, an attorney representing Reyes, said she has asked the Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen his prior deportation order from 2009. If Reyes doesn’t get a positive outcome, she said they will take the case to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.
"A federal immigration judge’s orders cannot be ignored," ICE Spokesperson Shawn Neudauer has previously told NBC Connecticut. "ICE and the courts can delay acting on an order to ensure all applicable legal processes and possible benefits are followed and/or reviewed, which occurred in this case. However, after these legal options are exhausted, ICE must still carry out the judge’s order in the absence of any other mitigating factors."
Blumenthal said he plans to share the stories he heard from Dreamers at the New Haven church with his colleagues on the floor of the U.S. Senate.