CHICAGO - The deadline for the DACA recipients to renew their applications is Oct. 5 and local immigrant rights organizations are working hard to assist Illinois' approximately 36,000 recipients.
However, Laura Mendoza, of the Resurrection Project in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, said some people won't renew because they are fearful that the Trump administration may use their information against them.
"At this point, the administration has your information, if you are doing a renewal, so you might as well get two more years of protection," Mendoza said.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, provides protection from deportation and permission to legally work in the U.S. for two more years. Recipients - called "Dreamers" - are individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents when they were children.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced that he would end the DACA program at the end of March. But work permits for DACA recipients are legal until they expire.
"We are telling people to renew immediately because it needs to be submitted on file by Oct 5, not postmarked," said Rebecca Shi, of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition.
Testifying before the Chicago City Council's Committee of Human Relations on Wednesday, Shi stressed how vital DACA recipients are to Illinois' workforce and economy. She said recipients work as engineers, doctors, lawyers, business owners and CPS teachers.
Created by President Barack Obama in 2012, the DACA program allows young people brought to this country illegally by their parents to legally work, go to school and get a reprieve from deportation.
Among local DACA recipients are Laura Mendoza, who was 6 years old when she came to the U.S.
"Our stories are powerful and that is what is going to push people to really see us as the humans we are," Mendoza said.
Nancy, another DACA recipient, was just 8 months old when she arrived.
"Why are they doing this to us? We just want to work, we want to have the same opportunities as everyone else," she said.
Meanwhile, the future of the "Dreamers" could be in the hands of Congress, as Trump gave them six months to find a legislative fix to the issue.
Wednesday night, Trump is expected to meet with top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and DACA is expected to a top of conversation.
U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, have introduced the Dream Act, which provides a pathway to citizenship for immigrant students who grew
up in the U.S. Durbin has called on his Republican colleagues to call the proposal for a vote.
Also, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has joined attorneys general from 15 other states in filing a lawsuit to protect the DACA recipients.