HUTCHINSON — A small American flag flutters on the front porch of Ben and Aly Mosier’s rural Reno County home. Several tricycles and a baby stroller dot the lawn, along with a small flock of chickens.
Inside, Aly is keeping her eye on the national news trying to learn the latest information regarding President Trump’s announcement to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. She has been a participant in the program since 2013.
Because of DACA Aly has the temporary right to live, study, and work legally in America, plus, it enables her to have a driver’s license. She also has a social security card issued by the Department of Homeland Security, which is valid only for work.
Earlier this week, Trump gave Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution to resolve the issue. Reports seemed conflicting. At one point Trump told reporters, "I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly."
Yet at the same time, the Associated Press reported the White House distributed talking points to members of Congress that included a dark warning: "The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States."
The news has caused stress and confusion in central Kansas.
Wednesday at the Reno County Learning Center, Cindy Flores, an ESL instructor, said she knew of 75 families in Reno County who will be impacted. Each one paid $495 for the two-year permit.
Inside the Mosier home
Aly, 25, has participated in DACA since 2013. It’s something her husband Ben, a U.S. citizen, encouraged his wife to do.
They have two children - Anna, 4, and Benjamin Jr., 1 ½. - both U.S. citizens. He admits worrying that his wife could be deported but tries to stay positive.
“You have people like her who are really good people and always doing the right thing, and she has this barrier holding her back for something that wasn't her fault,” he said.
Aly was the same age of her daughter when she traveled from Chihuahua, Mexico to the U.S. with her mother in 1996. Her father had become a resident and wanted his family to join him.
“All I remember was a man helping us jump a chain-link fence,” she said. "I was only 4, so I vaguely remember. We pretended to pray at grave sites, because it was a cemetery. And then we would walk a little bit more and then pretend we were praying and walk a little more. Finally, we made it to the other side of the cemetery and we were here. And my dad picked us up at a Walmart on the other side, in Douglas, Arizona.”
“I was an only child and I knew there was something different about my family," Aly added. "My mom couldn't drive and my dad would drive us everywhere, so I just knew. There was a language barrier with my parents and I would have to call about bills, because I was the only one who spoke English.”
While she is thankful to be in the U.S., she never had a say in the decision to come illegally. Deporting Aly would be sending her to a foreign land she has not returned to in 20 years.
“I don’t know Mexico. It'd be like you going to China,” Aly said. “This is home for me.”
Those protected under DACA are referred to as "dreamers" -- those who arrived in the U.S. before turning 16 and lived here continuously since 2007. However, Aly says she feels there is a difference between herself and the dreamers.
“I have a U.S. citizen husband who has my back. And a family who knows my story," she said. "A dreamer is someone who wants to be heard and is desperately saying please don't take my life from me. But I feel safer than most out there.”
Over the past four years of their marriage, she could have applied for residency in the U.S.
“Pride has been part of it," Aly said. "I didn’t want to marry him and have him fix my residency. I will do it. I want to pay for it. I am here for the right reasons.”
“She is adamant about that,” Ben said.
While Ben works as an instrumental mechanic, Aly is currently a stay-at-home mom and a sophomore at Hutchinson Community College. Someday she can see herself as a science teacher or a nurse.
Now with the reality of the program being rescinded, she feels it forced her to work towards her goals.
“I know Trump wants to get everything right," Aly said. "I know he wants to do something good for this country and that sometimes means not doing things that are very nice.
“I know the goal is not to destroy someone's life today," she continued. "Sometimes when you need to grow you have to go through adversity.”
Aly admits she had grown comfortable with DACA. Now, she's determined to get her residency. Instead of preparing to leave the country, as Homeland Security suggests, she is preparing to become a citizen.
That’s also her husband's wish.
"I want her to become a resident for our family’s sake and the future,” he said. “She can get through school and become what she wants to become.”
Waiting for answers
On Tuesday, Cindy Flores was talking to one parent of a DACA participant whose cell phone rang at the Reno County Learning Center.
It was the woman's 22-year-old daughter who had heard the news and was calling her mother crying. She was planning to become a phlebotomist and wondered if she should even bother going to school.
“I told her to continue her dream,” Flores said. “There are six months for Congress to make a decision, and hopefully they will turn things around.”
The daughter had come to the U.S. from Mexico illegally when she was 4. Meanwhile, her mother has since had a child born in the U.S. who is a legal resident.
If the daughter was deported, it would divide the family.
“My fear is that this will disrupt families who are productive in our community,” Flores said. "The kids who apply for DACA have to prove they have not committed a crime. This keeps our DACA students on a straight path to be productive leaders. They contribute to the U.S. economy they must be current on their income taxes. And they must renew their permit every two years.”
How law enforcement will deals with the issue is unknown. Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson is out of town and the department declined to comment.
“We haven't had any time to discuss it,” said Undersheriff Shawn McHawley.