In new piece, Daily Kos’ Gabe Ortiz profiles Juan Escalante, DACA-recipient; America’s Voice Communications Manager; and “the Persistent Dreamer.”
Throughout the exclusive interview, Escalante recounts his family’s immigration story, his debut in the fight for immigrants’ rights, and the current state-of-play: “Am I worried? A bit, but then again who wouldn’t be when the threat of deportation hangs over their head…That is why I continue to advocate, because I refuse to sit by as this administration threatens and destroys the livelihood of millions of hard-working immigrants.”
Recently, Escalante was added to the HuffPost columnist rotation, providing key insight and analysis of immigration news. Read his latest column, “ICE Is Distorting The Truth To Keep Up With Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda, “ online here.
Ortiz’ entire interview is worth the read and available online here. The profile is also excerpted below:
“You have poll after poll showing that the American people, actual voters from both political parties, want to see Dreamers protected from deportation and allowed to state in the United States,” he told Daily Kos. “What does Congress do? Create an impossible path to navigate, full of grandstanding and blockades for sensible DACA legislation, while simultaneously claiming that they intend to help Dreamers like me. The way I see it, Republicans broke the DACA program, and now they are unwilling to fix it.”
Recent injunctions from courts in California and New York have resurrected portions of DACA, but new applicants are still barred from enrolling. Even immigrant youth who are being allowed to re-apply and extend their work permits could become vulnerable to ICE arrest while waiting for their applications to be approved and processed. “Dreamers are currently able to renew their DACA benefits, which is excellent,” he continued, “but a renewal notice will not protect them from deportation.”
DACA recipients have already been targeted by Trump’s racist mass deportation force, facing “arrest and detention after speaking against ICE agents at press conferences as their DACA renewals were being processed,” Escalante reported in his Huffington Post column this month, another role he has put on his plate. “ICE has recently gone after several prominent immigration activists, sparking a debate on whether the agency is actively retaliating against some of its biggest critics and opponents.”
Still, Escalante is refusing to back down to intimidation, not only urging immigrant rights advocates to keep up the pressure on federal legislators, but to also support local, pro-immigrant policies while keeping an eye to electoral change in November. Among state house seats, Democrats have already flipped dozens of once-red seats since Trump’s election. If Congress is unwilling to change the laws to help young Americans-in-waiting like Escalante, then it’s time to change Congress.
“My message to the president and Republican leaders in Congress is simple: you broke it, you fix it,” Escalante said. “We have no time for pointing fingers or issuing criticisms about failures from previous administrations. We are here, this is now, and Dreamers are counting on real leadership that doesn’t use their lives and talents as the ransom.”