WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, more than 75 Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients will travel to Washington, DC to advocate directly to their Members of Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that will permanently protect from deportation individuals currently living here without permanent status. Without urgent action from Congress, more than 1 million individuals could be separated from their families, ripped out of the workforce, and deported, starting in a matter of weeks.

The diverse group, comprised of nearly 80 individuals from 11 different states, includes DACA recipients pursuing higher education, TPS holders who have rebuilt their lives in the United States after fleeing natural disasters in their home countries, and hardworking Liberian American DED recipients who have contributed to their U.S. communities for decades. The participants include Roxana Chicas, a TPS holder who came to the United States from El Salvador 32 years ago. She is a mother of 3 children and a nurse who is working toward her Ph.D. at Emory University, and a vital member of her community. You can learn more about Roxana’s story here.

Every individual in the group has a unique story, but all have had their lives thrown into chaos due to the actions of the Trump Administration, which is trying to terminate programs that currently protect more than 1 million individuals. Each participant is at risk of being deported, separated from their loved ones, and forced out of their communities to return to countries they may not have seen in decades. Only permanent legislative protections from Congress will allow them the certainty to continue living and working in the U.S., and building their lives here.

** #ProtectTheDream fly-in participants will be available for interviews beginning Tuesday, March 5. News outlets should reach out to [email protected] to arrange participant interviews. **

Participants hail from 12 states, including California, Colorado, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Utah, New York, and Pennsylvania. Some of the participants include:

DACA Recipient: Evelyn Valdez-Ward (Irvine, CA)
Evelyn is a DACA recipient and Ph.D. student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine, and Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow, studying the effects of climate change on the interaction between plants and their soil microbes.

DACA Recipient: Kennya Sanchez (Denver, CO)
Kennya Sanchez is a DACA recipient born in Mexico but who grew up in Avon, Colorado. She currently teaches kindergarten at McGlone Academy.

DACA Recipient: Jesus Contreras (Houston, TX)
Jesus Contreras is a DACA recipient who graduated from Lonestar College’s Paramedic Program in 2016, and served as a first responder in the response and recovery to Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Jesus came to the United States from Mexico in 1999 and currently lives in Houston, Texas.

TPS Holder: Roxana Chicas (Lawrenceville, GA)
Roxana Chicas is a TPS holder from El Salvador who came to the United States 32 years ago. She is a Ph.D. candidate and clinical instructor at Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University.

DED Recipient: Vestonia Viddy (Smyrna, DE)

Vestonia and her family, including two younger brothers, came to the U.S. in 1991 amid the Liberian civil war, shortly after her grandfather, a government lawyer, had been murdered because of his professional standing. Vestonia and her family are DED recipients. The program is set to expire on March 31.

Please contact [email protected] to connect with other participants

Fast Facts on DACA, TPS, and DED:

DACA: Approximately 700,000 DACA recipients have been living from court case to court case since the Trump Administration ended the program in September 2017.

  • DACA recipients live in every state in the U.S., work in virtually every sector of the economy, and contribute more than $42 billion to GDP every year.
  • The Trump Administration’s relentless pursuit to end renewals and throw the lives of DACA recipients into even further chaos would have devastating consequences for Dreamers, their loved ones, employers, and communities across the U.S.

TPS: More than 300,000 individuals currently living in the U.S. have TPS, and they have built their lives here over decades and are deeply ingrained in communities across the U.S.

  • The average TPS holder has lived in the U.S. for 19 years, and the vast majority – between 70 – 80% – are employed. Many have invested in their communities by buying homes, starting businesses and becoming valued employees.
  • Additionally, TPS holders are raising families that include nearly 275,000 U.S. citizen children, who were born here. Revoking TPS will throw the lives of these U.S. citizens into chaos, separating families or forcing parents to bring their children to countries that are entirely foreign to them, disrupting their education and their lives.

DED: Hardworking immigrants from Liberia have contributed to American communities for decades as business owners, teachers, and health care workers.

  • All DED recipients have lived in the U.S. for at least 15 years, and must pass a federal background check before they earn a work permit and deportation protections, including paying application fees, submitting their family’s information, getting their fingerprints taken, and undergoing background checks every time they apply for DED.
  • DED recipients have played by the rules and worked hard to rebuild their lives after devastating circumstances forced them to flee their country of origin. Forcing Liberian Americans to return to an unstable country will not only risk their safety, but will also separate families, harm communities, and disrupt local economies.