By Yeganeh Torbati and Ann Saphir
(Reuters) – Ilka Eren, 25, came to the United States from Turkey with her parents more than 15 years ago and lives in the country without legal authorization.
While in college, she applied and qualified for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that President Donald Trump vowed to end during his 2016 presidential campaign.
The program does not change an immigrant’s legal status but rather protects from deportation and gives the right to work to so-called “Dreamers,” young people brought to the United States as children and living in the country illegally. Nearly 800,000 immigrants have received DACA protection since the program’s launch in 2012.
Eren’s DACA status opened the door to several internships, and eventually to a job in New York at Ovation Travel Group, which provides travel services to corporations, as executive assistant to the chief financial officer.
“DACA literally changed my life,” she said. “I really don’t know where I would be without it.”
Paul Metselaar, Ovation’s chief executive, doesn’t know where he’d be without Eren.
He said her job responsibilities have grown because of her abilities. He said she reminded him of his own grandparents, who immigrated to the United States to seek a better life. If Eren were to lose her work eligibility it would be a blow to his company, Metselaar said.
But, he added, “it would be much more of a blow to her family, and to who we are as a country.”
Trump is expected to announce a decision to end DACA on Tuesday, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation, but with a delay of up to six months to allow Congress to find a legislative solution.
On the campaign trail, Trump promised to quickly repeal the program, but since taking office – even as he has stepped up immigration enforcement – he has at times taken a softer tone about DACA. “We love the Dreamers,” he told reporters on Friday.
Immigration hard-liners within the Republican Party have pressured the president to scrap the program. Nine Republican state attorneys general have said they will file a legal challenge to the program if the Trump administration does not end it by Tuesday.
Many business leaders have urged the president to keep DACA protections in place, including the heads of tech giants Microsoft , Apple and Facebook . They have generally cited a potential hit to the economy if the program were to end, although there is scant government…