LEXINGTON, KY (WTVQ)- It was a monumental ruling by the US Supreme Court Thursday and a decision that could have changed a Lexington man’s life instantly.
A sharply divided court ruled President Trump improperly ended the ‘DACA’ program, which protects immigrants brought to this country as children and allows them to legally work. The people in the program are referred to as ‘Dreamers.’
Omar Salinas Chacón is one of those ‘Dreamers.’ He said he was ready to pack up as much as he could and leave everything he’d worked toward.
“Either I was going to have to go into hiding, or I was going to have to leave the country. There was no way around it,” said Chacón.
Chacón was born in El Salvador. His family became a target of gang violence in 2001. His father and grandfather were kidnapped and held for ransom.
After losing all of their wealth to get them back, they sought and were denied asylum by the US Embassy. Out of desperation, his family applied for a tourism visa to go to Disney World, so they could get into the United States.
Omar never went to Disney World, but after applying and becoming a DACA recipient in 2012, he was able to receive a social security number, graduate from EKU and live a life without hiding.
“I’ve been able to have a job, get a drivers license. Honestly, just those few things alone are things I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to do in this country,” said Chacón.
While Thursday’s ruling was a surprise for many, the fight isn’t over and will come down to Congress to settle.
“There are many fixes that are needed to make our immigration laws work today. That’s something that only congress can really address in a thorough way,” said Enid Trucios-Haynes, ACLU of Kentucky board of directors member and University of Louisville law professor.
Chacón hopes that after 20 years, changes coming from Congress will help his family not have to live in hiding.
“We look at people from fictional worlds like the Handmades Tale and we say, ‘Oh wow, she’s doing whatever she can to save her family,’ said Chacón. “Somehow in the real world when migrants come here doing the exact same thing, except it’s not in HD television, we look at it in a completely different way.”