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Young Mexicans speak out about what they lost by leaving the US before Daca, what they gained, and what faces those who may now lose their protection
Three years after she went back to Mexico, a country she barely knew, Maggie Loredo learned that Barack Obama had created temporary deportation relief for undocumented migrants brought to the US as children.
I immediately wanted to go to the border with all of my things and go back to the US, she said.
But because she had left, she did not qualify for relief from the threat of deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), the temporary program that the Trump administration now says it will end.
On Tuesday, attorney general Jeff Sessions said the program was introduced unlawfully and the US could not admit everyone who wanted to enter. The US, Sessions said, was enforcing law that saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering.
The government was acting with compassion, he said.
He did not say anything about those covered by Daca so-called Dreamers and the young lives that will now be put on hold or forced on to new and frightening paths.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, 1.3 million people in the US qualify or would qualify when old enough for Daca relief. Federal and state lawmakers and immigration activists have promised to fight Trumps decision. Nonetheless, since the presidential election most Dreamers, who are mostly Mexican, have been forced to consider a future without it.
Loredo, now 27, was one of several people who spoke to the Guardian in Mexico about what they lost by leaving the US before Daca, what they gained and what might now face those who will lose protection.
They spoke of tough challenges, including the need to navigate new healthcare and educational systems. They spoke of local hostility typically their Spanish is mocked while some resent their fluent English. They also discussed cultural and emotional challenges, including indefinite separation from family and friends.
One spoke of singing the pledge of allegiance at her US school with such joy, only to realise that those words dont apply to me, this country that I loved and felt so proud to be from then kicked me out.
When she was 16, a would-be employer told Loredo she did not have legitimate proof of citizenship. This meant she would not qualify for federal financial aid for university or be able to get a work permit. Her options were to live in the shadows of the only country she had known since she was two, or return to Mexico.
One month after graduating high school in Georgia, she traveled south in a van with six men and sacks of mail, ending up in her grandparents hometown, San Luis Potos. Instead of going to university, she taught English to children. Their parents would ask: How can you teach English when you dont speak Spanish?