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Houston ‘Dreamers’ Go To Washington To Ask Lawmakers To Help Them With A Fix For DACA

Although a federal judge has temporarily blocked the government’s decision to terminate the program, they still consider passing legislation is “urgent”

File photo of December 18, 2017, people who call themselves DREAMers, protest in front of the U.S. Capitol to urge Congress to pass a DREAM Act.

‘Dreamers’ who live in Houston were in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday asking members of Congress to pass legislation that will protect from deportation recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the Trump Administration intends to terminate.

Even though a federal judge in California temporarily blocked the government’s decision to end DACA through a decision issued on Tuesday night, the ‘Dreamers’ still consider it is urgent for Congress to pass legislation that will provide what they say would be a permanent solution.

César Espinosa, executive director of Houston-based Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle (FIEL, by its acronym in Spanish), held meetings with several members of the Texas Congressional delegation and with their staffers.

Cesar Espinosa, first on the right, in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, asking members of Congress to pass DACA.

Espinosa, who is a DACA recipient himself, met in person with Representative Al Green (Democrat-District 9), as well as with Representative Marc Veasey (Democrat-District 33) and Representative Lloyd Doggett (Democrat-District 35).

Additionally, the activist spoke to staffers from the offices of Representative Ted Poe (Republican-District 2), Representative John Culberson (Republican-District 7) and Representative Pete Olson (Republican-District 22).

Addressing the judicial decision that has put another impasse to the future of DACA, Espinosa noted that the members of Congress he has been in contact with understand some kind of legislation is “urgent.” The federal government will prevent DACA recipients whose work permits expire after March 5th from applying for renewal.

“Whatever is gonna happen with DACA or the pending court litigation now, is temporary so what we’re asking for and what we’re really pushing hard for is for a permanent solution,” noted the activist who added: “we’ve actually gotten very positive feedback from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle saying that right now is the time to push for Dreamer legislation.”

Espinosa also underlined that, ideally, the ‘Dreamers’ would want a bill that would provide them with a possibility to become United States citizens and, although he acknowledged it is very likely a potential bill would include immigration enforcement components, the activists are getting “positive feedback” in the sense of “maybe scaling back on some of the harshest provisions.”

Jonathan Zapeta, a 22-year-old undocumented immigrant who lives in Houston and arrived in the U.S. when he was 6 year- old, was also in Washington.

Although he didn’t qualify for DACA, Zapeta –who is originally from Guatemala and attends the University of Houston-Downtown— said he went to the nation’s capital to advocate for the ‘Dreamer’ community “because being undocumented is part of who I am and I can’t be like silent or passive.”

Zapeta added that the mood he saw in Washington was positive.

“It’s definitely not a pessimistic attitude by any means,” Zapeta assured while adding that the conviction of the ‘Dreamers’ is “solid.”

Asked about whether he thinks a legislative solution to protect DACA recipients from deportation could be a first step towards a comprehensive immigration reform that could help people who are in his same situation, Zapeta responded he believes that is possible to a certain extent.

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Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

General Assignment Reporter

Alvaro 'Al' Ortiz is originally from Spain. He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all platforms of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast news and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master's degree...

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