Texans Joined More than 75 Dreamers, TPS holders, and DED Recipients for the #ProtectTheDream Fly-In
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, seven Dreamers from Texas traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate directly to their Members of Congress for passage of bipartisan legislation that will provide permanent protections to individuals living in the United States. Without urgent action from Congress, more than 1 million individuals, including 115,000 Texas Dreamers, could be separated from their families, ripped out of the workforce, and deported, starting in a matter of weeks.
The Texas Dreamers joined a diverse group of nearly 80 individuals from 12 different states, including DACA recipients pursuing higher education, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders who have rebuilt their lives in the United States after fleeing natural disasters in their home countries, and hardworking Liberian American Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients who have contributed to their U.S. communities for decades.
Every individual in the group has a unique story, but all have had their lives thrown into chaos due to the Trump Administration’s actions to terminate programs — like DACA, TPS, and DED — 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.
AVAILABLE FOR BOOKING:
The following Texas Dreamers participated in the Washington, D.C. fly-in and are willing to participate in media interviews.
Jesus Contreras, DACA Recipient (Houston, TX)
- Jesus Contreras graduated from Lonestar College’s Paramedic Program in 2016 and looks forward to a resolution on DACA in order to continue serving his community as a paramedic. Jesus came to the United States from Mexico in 1999 and currently lives in Houston, Texas. When he is not on duty, Jesus is also a Volunteer Camera Operator at his church.
Juan Carlos Cerda, DACA Recipient (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX)
- Juan Carlos Cerda is a business outreach manager for the Texas Immigration Business Coalition. A native of Mexico, Juan Carlos grew up in Dallas-Ft. Worth and graduated from Grand Prairie High School. Despite being ineligible for public scholarships because of his immigration status, Juan Carlos received a full-ride scholarship to Yale University, where he majored in history. He joined Teach for America after graduating from college to teach kindergarten at Richardson Elementary School in Dallas. Following the passage of SB4 and rescission of DACA, Juan Carlos organized immigrant communities at the Texas Organizing Project.
Cesar Espinosa, DACA Recipient (Houston, TX)
- 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 immigrant-led nonprofit that seeks to empower the immigrant community in Houston, Texas, the state of Texas itself, across the United States. 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 level. He graduated from Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professionals and is an advocate for immigrants rights, students rights, and human rights.
Carla Martinez, DACA Recipient (San Antonio, TX)
- Carla Martinez is an engineer in training at M&S Engineering. She graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas at San Antonio, where she was the first DACA recipient to study abroad in Urbi, Italy with the first cohort of Civil Engineering students.
Melissa Martinez, DACA Recipient (Clint, TX)
- Melissa Martinez is a student at the University of Texas in El Paso studying mathematics and a DACA recipient. She is an active member of the Labor Justice and United Dreamers Committee. Melissa came to the U.S. at 5 years old and has called it home since. Thanks to DACA and the efforts of her parents, Melissa is close to reaching her goals.
Chris Ponce, DACA Recipient (Lubbock, TX)
- Christopher Ponce is a Medical Interventionist who works with medically complex children to establish behavioral and medical changes around their health care that will benefit them in the future as they transition into independence. Christopher has not only invested himself in pediatrics but has also served as a spokesperson for undocumented immigrants across the country. As a DACA student, Christopher acknowledges the many barriers faced by students like himself.
Carlos Salinas Hernandez, DACA Recipient (San Antonio, TX)
- Carlos is a first-year general engineering student at Texas A&M University and is currently pursuing his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. He is bilingual, a member of Mexican student association at Texas A&M, and actively volunteers in his community. He moved to San Antonio at the age of 6 and is a graduate of the city’s Robert E. Lee High School. He is the first member of his family to attend college. Obtaining DACA has since allowed him to have many opportunities including being able to work in high school and pursue a college education. Carlos comes from a family of seven, including his single mother, two older sisters, two nephews, and a niece.
FAST FACTS ON TEXAS DREAMERS:
- DACA recipients are integral to the fabric of communities across Texas. Protecting Dreamers and ensuring that they and their family members can thrive is good for Texas families and good for Texas’ economy.
- In Texas, DACA has allowed more than 115,000 young people to come forward, pass a background check, and live and work legally in the U.S.
- Texas Dreamers are entrepreneurs, teachers, nurses, and engineers, and they live in, work in, and contribute to nearly every community across the state.
- Ending DACA, and failing to provide permanent protections for Dreamers, would cost Texas more than $6.2 billion in annual GDP losses.
- DACA-eligible Dreamers in Texas have an annual spending power of $2.6 billion.
- Texas’ Dreamers pay more than $244 million in state and local taxes annually.