TAMPA, Fla — The topic of immigration is deeply personal to attorney Emel Ersan.
“I felt that immigrants needed an advocate and I was happy to be able to do it," she said. “I’m an immigrant child myself."
And she says she's been disappointed by recent news out of Washington about the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which provides some protection against deportation for immigrants brought to the U.S. as kids.
“People that have DACA, they have fear, they have anxiety, they want to have an increased sense of acceptance they want to have a sense of belonging to the community," said Ersan.
That's after a budget bill recently stalled in the U.S senate. It would have provided a more permanent path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other immigrants.
The bill was flagged by the senate parliamentarian who said its protections for immigrants would cost much more than the bill's sponsors budgeted for.
“They could simply ignore the decision made by the parliamentarian. Now that’s rare and that would be frowned upon. But a lot of democrats are pushing for just ignoring that decision," said Ersan.
Ersan is now calling on Congress and the Biden administration to push immigration protections through.
“As long as DACA is some kind of floating law that can be changed with any president there’s absolutely no security," she said.
She says without it, a significant number of immigrants in the Tampa Bay area could be affected.
"Hundreds and thousands [of people would be impacted]," she said. "There’s a lot more than people know because a lot of immigrants are laying low."
That fear that Ersan described is very real. Several DACA recipients turned down ABC Action News' request to be included in this story because they didn't want to reveal their immigration status or that of their family.