EL PASO, Texas - Thousands of eligible unauthorized immigrants have yet to renew their immigration status as a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, despite the Oct. 5 deadline.
Borderland attorney Carlos Spector expected a wave of people looking to renew, but that didn't happen.
"I think we have all been surprised that there has been some people coming forward, but we all know that there is a real absence of involvement by the community. And I think what it is, is that people are scared. People are scared because they know the program expires in March and today's the last day. And since it is going to expire, why get into the system?" Spector said.
Regardless of whether people filed to renew their DACA status, their future is uncertain.
President Donald Trump announced his plan to end the DACA program in six months.
"I think the kids, or the young adults, had to make a decision and balance between possibly being picked up and identified and put into removal proceedings, or renewing it. But the problem is they are already in the system," Spector said.
The president wants Congress to act before DACA expires on March 5.
"We are hoping that the administration makes good on its promise to allow the work authorizations that the DACA applicants have, to honor their expiration date. But the program ends in March and it could be revoked at any time. What the administration gives, the administration can take away because it is a discretionary program," Spector said. "So even though we have hopes that a DREAM Act would be passed by the end of the year, there is not a guarantee."
Immigrant rights groups have sued the Trump administration over its termination of a program that protects young people brought to the United States illegally.
The lawsuit, which was filed in a Maryland federal court Thursday, argues that the termination of the DACA program didn't follow the necessary procedures, and is discriminatory against Mexicans and Central Americans. The suit also alleges that the decision violates the Fifth Amendment because the administration has walked back a guarantee that sensitive information provided on DACA applications won't be used for enforcement purposes.
"In terms of the DACA community, the students are confused and worried that their whole life is going to be turned upside down. They may not be able to go to school, they may not be able to work. They are going to have to go back underground," Spector said.
CASA de Maryland and other groups filed suit against President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in addition to four government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and their department heads.