'Dreamer' Paramedic Who Saved Lives in Houston Calls DACA Decision 'Disgusting'
Jesus Contreras helped save Texans impacted by Harvey flooding. Now he faces possible deportation.
Just days after the rain finally stopped, a new cloud hangs over the head of a Texas man who risked his life to save others during Houston's historic floods brought on by Hurricane Harvey.
Donald Trump's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) leaves hundreds of thousands of young lives hanging in the balance. Among them is 23-year-old Jesus Contreras.
The 23-year-old paramedic is a beneficiary of the Obama-era executive order aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
Just minutes after Attorney General Jeff Sessions revealed Trump's decision to give Congress six months to come up with plan to dismantle the program, Contreras took to Facebook to condemn the decision.
"It's one of the most disgusting, saddening messages that we've ever heard," Contreras said in a live video from Miami, where he says he's speaking on behalf of some 800,000 young people affected by the executive decision.
"I've had very little sleep... I've been exhausted. Nonetheless, I understand that I am here for a purpose," he said. "God has put me here to speak for the hundreds of thousands of us that are dealing with this right now."
To them, Contreras said: "Let's stay strong and faithful. Let's stay focused on the goal — reform."
And Contreras is not alone in his condemnation. Pro-immigrant groups swarmed the White House late Tuesday morning, where chants of "shame on you" were aimed at Donald Trump.
The group later planned to march to ICE headquarters in Washington.
In New York City, a dozen protesters outside Trump Tower were arrested as they staged a sit-in amid chants of, "Undocumented! Unafraid!"
But Sessions, in announcing the move, framed DACA as unconstitutional.
"The executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions," Sessions said. "Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch."
In its six-month window, Congress now has the opportunity to pass its own immigration legislation.
As of Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security will no longer consider new applications. However, applications still in process will be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.
Those already in the program whose permits expire by March 5 can apply for a 2-year renewal between now and Oct. 5.
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