‘End of life as we know it’: With DACA ending, Washington state Dreamer prepares for fight

The waiting was killing Paúl Quiñonez Figueroa. Now that the DACA recipient and legislative assistant knows President Trump’s plans for young, undocumented immigrants, he can figure out next steps, including how to avoid being a bargaining chip at his parents’ expense.

Paúl Quiñonez Figueroa wakes up around 6 a.m. every day, anxious.

“I could literally wake up to the end of DACA,” he said of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which since 2012 has allowed young people brought to this country illegally to live and work here.

As a 22-year-old DACA recipient, the waiting has been killing him.

“He should announce it already,” Quiñonez Figueroa said Friday in his Northgate apartment.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions did it for the president.

Sessions announced an “orderly, lawful wind-down” of DACA over the next six months. The Department of Homeland Security will accept no new applications.

Current DACA recipients, however, will be allowed to work legally until their two-year permits expire. That gives Quiñonez Figueroa until February 2019.

“Having a few extra months to prepare for the end of life as we know it is not treating us with empathy or with heart,” Quiñonez Figueroa, an activist with Washington Dream Coalition, said immediately after Sessions’ remarks.

And he was infuriated that President Donald Trump, who had pledged to show heart when dealing with Dreamers, “did not have the decency to face us.”

Now, he’s looking toward the congressional debate that Trump and Sessions have set up as they left the fate of DACA recipients to the legislative branch.

Quiñonez Figueroa, who works as a legislative assistant to state Rep. Shelley Kloba D-Kirkland, said he and his peers plan to press members of Congress to vote on a new DREAM Act introduced this year. The bipartisan bill goes further than previous, failed versions; those eligible would include not just young, undocumented immigrants who go to college or serve in the military but also those in the workforce.

Unlike DACA, it would provide a path to citizenship.

Quiñonez Figueroa said, however, “we’re not going to be used as bargaining chips to put down our parents, to put down our friends.”

He was referring to speculation that Trump and some Republicans might try to trade passage of the DREAM Act for items on the president’s agenda less friendly to immigrants: building a wall on the border…

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