INDIANOLA, Iowa -- At the center of the government shutdown are Dreamers--people brought into America by their immigrant parents.
DACA is the program that allows them to stay in the U.S., but now it’s on the chopping block. Simpson College senior Cecilia Martinez and her friend Natalia Olivas are concerned when they think about the future.
“I sit there and I run thousands of scenarios through my head of what could happen if I were to end up back in Mexico. I have family there, yes, but I have no memories of that place, I have no memories of what life is like there," Martinez said.
Martinez and Olivas both came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico with their parents. If Congress ends DACA, though, Martinez could get deported and not have the opportunity to finish the education she has dreamed of for years.
“If DACA is taken away and I am not able to renew or even apply for any other type of documentation, my social security will be taken away, so everything that comes with that like an ID, driver’s license, any taxes that I'm paying, you know, I can't contribute anymore," Martinez said.
Martinez said her parents have been working most of their lives to become U.S. citizens.
“It has taken over 20 years for them to even be able to get to that point, and they've been working and they've been applying since we got here. So it’s not like we've just been sitting around waiting for some handout, it has just been this is the situation we are in," Martinez said.
Olivas says most people flee their home county to escape poverty and seek a better life in America.
“I'm just absolutely heartbroken. These are people that have been part of this country, as I have, I, too, feel like an American even though I wasn’t born here," Olivas said.
But Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King has made it clear he believes people like Martinez, who aren't documented, shouldn't stay. King tweeted, "Democrats in
#SchumerShutdown mode are punishing the military & have shut down the government in a foolish effort to force amnesty for illegals at the expense of Americans."
It's hurtful for these two women fighting for their American dream.
"Make sure that your heart is in the right place when you disagree, because it usually isn't," said Olivas.
Nearly 700,000 Dreamers currently exist nationwide, and they are waiting in limbo for Congress to decide on the future of DACA.