AUSTIN, TX – FWD.us Texas State Director Zaira Garcia released the following statement today, which marks two years since the Trump Administration announced their intent to end the DACA program and put 700,000 young people – including more than 115,000 Texans – at risk of losing their work authorization and being deported:
“September 5 marks two years since the Trump Administration’s unlawful attempts to end the overwhelmingly successful DACA program, which has allowed nearly 700,000 hardworking young people to contribute even more fully to our communities and our economy in the only country most of them have ever known as home. With DACA, hundreds of thousands of young people have been able to pursue higher education, buy homes and start businesses, advance their careers, and better provide for their families. In every way, DACA has been an astounding success for these young people’s lives and for their futures.
“While multiple courts have kept renewals in place for current DACA recipients, they’ve been forced to live court case to court case, uncertain about their futures and in fear of whether they will be torn away from their families and communities. We encourage eligible DACA recipients to renew without delay, and we urge members of Congress to pass a permanent legislative solution that would provide DACA recipients the stability to continue building their lives here.”
Available for Comment
The following individuals are available for comment on the second anniversary of the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA:
Zaira Garcia (Austin, TX)
Texas State Director, FWD.us
Zaira Garcia is the Texas State Director for FWD.us, a bipartisan political organization that believes America’s families, communities, and economy thrive when more individuals are able to achieve their full potential. Zaira’s involvement in the immigration debate began at a very early age as a result of witnessing multiple instances of injustice against her undocumented parents and their mixed-status family. Zaira is a University of Texas at Austin alumna with a dual degree in Government & Sociology.
Samuel Cervantes (Houston, TX)
Research Associate, FWD.us
Samuel Cervantes is an immigration policy researcher and an advocate pursuing a degree in Communication Studies, with a certificate in Human Rights and Social Justice, at the University of Texas at Austin. Born in Nuevo Leon, Mexico and raised in Houston, Texas, he is the oldest child in a family of four and the first of his family to attend college. Shaped by his background growing up as the gay son of an undocumented Mexican-American family, Samuel began his career as a political activist at the state level, where he coordinated a campaign to protect in-state tuition for undocumented students and organized against anti-immigrant legislation in Texas with the University Leadership Initiative. Samuel interned at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Texas State Legislature, in addition to completing the Bill Archer Fellowship in Washington, DC, and the Public Policy International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. Samuel now works as a Research Associate at FWD.us in Washington D.C. and aspires to pursue a JD/MPP to forward the welfare of his community.
Diego Cervantes (Austin, TX)
Diego came to the U.S. at 3 years old and started school shortly after arriving. Coming from a low-income family, attending college had seemed unrealistic due to his undocumented status. Fortunately, the college counselor at his high school reviewed his academic achievements and urged him to take the SAT and to apply for college. It was a big moment for Diego, as that was the first time anyone had expressed belief in him. In 2008, Diego enrolled at the University of Houston on a scholarship, so he thought. Within the first week of school, he had found a love for humanities and saw the rewards of attending a university. However, in that week he also learned that his scholarship would be revoked because it had a citizenship clause. Diego was devastated. He sought information from attorneys but learned that there was no pathway to citizenship for him. Despite this, he managed to earn enough financial aid to pay for his first semester. Diego has since then continued to work in immigration law, both as a student attorney, and now as a licensed attorney. It is a difficult and stressful job, but as an immigrant himself, he cares greatly about the millions of undocumented people in the U.S., as well as the people coming here fleeing danger.
Leezia Dhalla (San Antonio, TX)
Press Director, FWD.us
Leezia Dhalla immigrated to Texas from Canada in 1996, when she was six years old. Her family entered the United States on a visa and tried multiple times to secure permanent residency, but their application stalled after an attorney filed their paperwork late, and again after an employer sponsoring them sold his business, requiring the family to restart the entire application process. A Northwestern University journalism graduate, Leezia graduated from high school in Texas with summa cum laude honors and has given several TED talks on her experiences as an undocumented immigrant.
Cesar Espinosa (Houston, TX)
Executive Director, FIEL
Cesar Espinosa is a Co-founder and current Executive Director of FIEL (Familias Inmigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha – Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle). FIEL is an immigrant-led nonprofit that seeks to empower the immigrant community in Houston, Texas, the state of Texas itself, across the United States. Before moving to the United States, Cesar lived in Mexico. Living here, he has learned the impact of grassroots organizing on communities. Prior to FIEL, Mr. Espinosa studied at Houston Community college then transferred to the University of Houston where he worked in Pre-Law/ Political Science. He has served on a variety of boards at the local, state and national levels. He graduated from Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professionals and is an advocate for immigrants’ rights, students’ rights, and human rights.
Vanessa Rodriguez Minero (Austin, TX)
Student, UT Austin
Vanessa Rodriguez is a DACA recipient and student at the University of Texas at Austin, studying government. Born in Mexico, Vanessa has lived in the United States since 2004. She was motivated to share her status publicly after graduating from Elgin High School as salutatorian and seeing other undocumented youth share their stories. Vanessa hopes to be an immigration attorney one day.
Ricardo Reyna (Austin TX)
QA Engineer, General Motors
Ricardo Reyna came to the United States from Mexico and currently resides in Austin, Texas. He is a Dreamer and he graduated from Texas State University with his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems. He also obtained his Master’s Degree in Software Engineering from Penn State. He is also considering pursuing a Ph.D. in the future. He arrived at the age of 15 to the U.S. in 2005 from Mexico. Thanks to DACA, he is able to continue working as a Software Test Engineer at General Motors.
Julio Salazar (Amarillo, TX)
Julio is a DACA recipient who has seen firsthand how a broken immigration system negatively impacts people’s lives. His father, mother, siblings, and other close family members have been deported and separated from him for years. Julio’s experiences with the immigration system have caused him to live his life in fear of being stripped of everything he knows and loves.