Government & Politics

Immigrant takes us inside the world of terrified Dreamers as Trump vows to end DACA

Loyola Marymount University student and Dreamer Maria Carolina Gomez joined a rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program Friday in Los Angeles.
Loyola Marymount University student and Dreamer Maria Carolina Gomez joined a rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program Friday in Los Angeles. AP

Juan Escalante is a “Dreamer,” and he’s terrified President Donald Trump will end his dream of continuing his life in the United States.

Escalante, an undocumented immigrant, is protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that protects children brought into the country illegally.

But Trump has vowed to end the DACA program within six months, throwing the future of hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. into jeopardy. Trump’s pledge, announced officially Tuesday morning by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is expected to prompt nationwide protests.

Sessions said there will be an unspecified “wind down period,” meant to give Congress time to conceive of a replacement program for DACA. Replacements are expected to include a crack down on sanctuary cities and increased border security.

Dreamers are those protected under DACA, and 787,580 people have been granted the protection, according to the Guardian. Most are from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Escalante, who lives in Florida, tweeted a thread that provides a glimpse into the daily bouts of fear and anxiety that Dreamers endure. His thread has since gone viral with tens of thousands of retweets, and Escalante has been praised for divulging his vulnerabilities:

“DREAMers have been dealing with fear and anxiety since Trump came into office,” Escalante wrote. “Many of us have witnessed Dreamers being arrested/deported, while simoultaneously FEARING for the safety of our undocumented parents. ... The psychological trauma is real.”

He elaborates on the exhaustion and anxiety of trying to retain a sense of normalcy while constantly worrying about whether he’ll be deported to Venezuela, a country in the midst of economic and political turmoil.

Even before these latest pledges to end DACA, Trump’s election bred fear for many undocumented immigrants. In Kansas City, Kan., that fear translated into a precipitous decline in applications for food-assistance benefits.

Escalante encapsulates that fear and how it’s recently been magnified in his thread.

The thread garnered mostly support but some opposition, including an invitation to take “the road back to Mexico.”

Someone else pointed out that Escalante is from Venezuela, not Mexico.

But it seemed the vast majority offered support and solidarity in response to Escalante’s thread.

Max Londberg: 816-234-4378, @MaxLondberg

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