Hundreds of thousands of people, so-called Dreamers, including many here in Petaluma, have been left in limbo following President Trump’s announcement earlier this month that he was phasing out an Obama-era program which shielded from deportation young people brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. Trump’s decision hurts innocent people by casting a thick cloud of uncertainty over those who are endeavoring to be good students and employees.

No good can come of repealing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which former President Obama put in place through executive action after years of inaction from Congress on immigration reform. The program allows young people to stay in the U.S. to study or work, provided they meet certain criteria and have no serious criminal conviction. Those approved for the program may obtain a work permit and protection from deportation for two years.

While it’s been reported that Trump has cut a deal with Democrats to find a replacement for DACA, nothing is final until Congress passes legislation and the president signs a bill into law. Trump has, after all, been known to go back on his word more than once.

For DACA recipient Hector Jiminez of Petaluma, a Santa Rosa Junior College student long involved in the Dream Center at the Petaluma campus, his life now hangs in the balance. Jiminez, whose parents brought him across the U.S. boarder from Mexico when he was 1, plans to transfer to a four-year university next fall to work toward becoming an immigration lawyer. He is ineligible to renew his DACA benefits, and unless a replacement program is enacted, Jiminez will face the likely prospect of being deported to a country he has never known.

He is not alone in his struggle. Of the roughly 800,000 current DACA recipients in the nation, one-quarter of them live in California, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In Sonoma County, there were an estimated 6,000 youth eligible for DACA in 2016, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

According to Steve Herrington, superintendent of the Sonoma County Office of Education, an estimated 2,500 undocumented students are currently enrolled in K-12 in Sonoma County. At Santa Rosa Junior College, the majority of the 1,514 undocumented students are thought to be DACA recipients. That’s a lot of aspirational young people to send away.

Ironically, DACA was one of those rare programs that had the support of a strong majority of Americans, liberals and conservatives alike. In the name of justice, it’s difficult not to support Dreamers, who, for no fault of their own, found themselves as children in this country.

Many recipients of DACA status have become productive members of society, earning degrees and contributing to the economy through hard work. The optics alone of immigration agents pulling a high school or junior college student out of class to begin deportation proceedings would be disastrous for most politicians, not to mention that such actions are antithetical to core American values.

But that is exactly what could happen if DACA is reversed without a replacement in place.

We hope that Congress works to pass lasting legislation that continues to protect young people like Hector Jiminez from the injustice of being deported.