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Houston immigration activists in race against time on DACA

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A young, undocumented woman in Houston says there's much uncertainty about her future in the U.S. because of challenges to DACA. (KTRK)

Diana Platas is a DREAMER in many ways. Her parents came to the U.S. on a visitor's visa from Mexico to care for a sick relative when she was two and stayed.

"Even though I wasn't born here, I consider myself American because this is where I was raised," Platas said.

Diana is undocumented, but her two younger sisters Samantha and Kimberly were born here, so they are U.S. citizens.

The 20-year-old will graduate from UH Downtown two years early and she plans to go to law school, but those plans could be a difficult roller coaster ride.

While the court order surrounding DACA is being considered a victory for Houston's immigrant community, Platas said there is much uncertainty about her future in the U.S.

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Local advocates are encouraging young immigrants to file their DACA renewal paperwork before its too late.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services announced they will accept DACA renewal applications only.

Platas' work permit expires in May.

"That's what I'm going to do tomorrow, take advantage of the opportunity and do that as soon as possible," said Platas.

Platas' opportunity to renew DACA comes after a federal judge in California ordered the Trump administration to restart the program until a lawsuit challenging the administration's decision plays out in court.

Locally, leaders are celebrating the order but are also urging young people to take swift action because the situation is a very fluid one.

According to the government's website:
You may request a renewal if you met the initial 2012 DACA guidelines and you:
Did not depart the United States on or after Aug. 15, 2012, without advance parole;
Have continuously resided in the United States since you submitted your most recent DACA request that was approved;
Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
Are a current DACA recipient whose benefits expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018.

DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was installed during the Obama administration and offers protection from deportation. It allows work permits for a time period for those who came to the US illegally as a minor. Trump ended the program in September.

Platas hopes a permanent solution can be found that would keep her family together.

"A lot of people portray us to be criminals and they say we knowingly broke the law, but really we were just kids when we were brought here," Platas said. "We had no voice or say in anything. This is home, all we know and reach into their hearts and keep in mind all those things."

Immigration lawyers are urging anyone seeking renewal to get legal advice as it is a complicated matter. They also say this is not for first time DACA applicants, only for those with previous permits.

Federal agency returns to accepting renewal requests under DACA
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Federal agency returns to accepting renewal requests under DACA.

"People are asking us about the timeline, the time to do your renewal is now," FIEL Director Cesar Espinosa said. "Do not wait for next week, do not wait for next month, do not wait until your permit expires, do it now because these guidelines can change at any time, an emergency injunction can be put into place meaning you would not be able to renew after the emergency injunction is put into place."

The U.S. Department of Justice will likely appeal the judge's order, which could put the program on hold again.

Local leaders backing DACA say they'll be headed back to Washington this week to fight for a permanent solution with lawmakers.

WATCH: What is DACA?
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What is DACA?

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Related Topics:
politicsu.s. & worldimmigrationdacaPresident Donald TrumpmexicoHouston
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