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DACA vigil, 03.05.2018

Yovana Aliaga Centon speaks to a group gathered on the west steps of the state Capitol in March 2018 at a vigil in support of DACA recipients.

Young immigrants who live in Nebraska with DACA protections joined with community leaders on Thursday in calling upon members of Nebraska's congressional delegation to support pending legislation to provide them with permanent resident status and a pathway to citizenship.

The legislative proposals would also provide protections for those residents with temporary protected status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status.

The so-called young Dreamers with DACA protections were brought to the United States when they were children by their parents or other adults when they crossed the border illegally.

The Trump administration ended DACA protections one year ago, leaving the future of an estimated 3,400 young immigrants who live in Nebraska in limbo.  

"I value giving back to our community, the place I have been lucky enough to call my home and contribute to for the past 18 years," Yovana Aliaga Centon of Lincoln said during a gathering of about 30 young immigrants and their supporters in the Capitol Rotunda.

"Like many other DACA recipients, for the past several years I've been living in uncertainty, not knowing whether I will be able to renew my status.

"The lack of a pathway to citizenship for someone like me makes it difficult to plan and pursue long-term educational and work goals," she said.

Jose Palacios of Lincoln, a resident with temporary protected status, said he has enjoyed "the blessing of living in the Good Life state for 23 years," but hopes Congress will act now to provide him and his family with "a more stable and permanent solution."

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Nebraska Appleseed arranged Thursday's event.

A collection of civic, business, faith, children's, civil rights, health care and other organizations have sent a letter to members of Nebraska's congressional delegation urging support for the pending legislation.

"These valued friends and community members have lived in Nebraska for decades and contribute to local communities as teachers, health professionals, business owners, agricultural and manufacturing workers, volunteers, co-workers, taxpayers and parents," they wrote.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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