A lot has happened since the series was released this past summer–in particular there’s been a lot of talk about DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program has protected thousands of undocumented people from deportation since 2012. But recently the Trump Administration announced it would phase out DACA in March 2018. I wanted to see what the recent news means for Eddy Arias, the subject of Episode 1.
Eddy Arias: The only weapon that I have is my voice. And if that’s the only weapon that I have then I have to use it.
Will Coley: You’re listening to Indefensible: stories of people resisting deportation. I’m Will Coley and this is a podcast extra. A lot of happened since the series was released this past summer, in particular there’s been a lot of talk about DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program has protected thousands of undocumented people from deportation but recently the Trump Administration announced it would phase out DACA in March 2018. So I’m reconnecting with Eddy Arias who told his story in episode one of the series. He’s a “Dreamer”: a young undocumented immigrant who came to the States as a child and grew up acculturated and educated in the U.S.
WC: Eddie How’s it going?
EA: Oh it’s going great Will. Thank you so much for having me.
WC: Yeah, so what are you up to these days?
EA: I’ve just been working at for a city council member. When people have had a very long standing issue and they have not been able to fix it, then they contact me. They contact the you know the council member directly and then I help them with whatever issue they may have. Because of DACA, I am able to help people. I’m able to help American citizens.
WC: In September Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded DACA: the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. So what does this mean for you?
EA: Right now feel like I’m in a limbo again because when Attorney General Sessions, you know, announced the end of DACA, he didn’t pretty much provided any other relief options for us Dreamers. So my work permit expires in August. So I don’t know if at this point in time my employer may just tell me you know to leave because my work permit will be expiring, including my driver’s license and any other form of ID that was given because of DACA.
WC: Wait, you’re telling me that after August 2018, your work permit and driver’s license are going to be expiring. So right now you have no idea what’s going to happen to you in the future? Is that what you’re saying?
EA: Correct. I feel like I’m going back, one step back, to being in the shadows because that was my reality before DACA. You know, I didn’t have a driver’s license. I didn’t have any form of government ID. All I had was a Mexican passport to identify. So…I don’t know what’s going to happen. I do hope that Congress does it get it together so they can pass the Dream Act, and hopefully a clean Dream Act and that’s what we would like to see.
WC: I’ve read that Congress is supposed to be figuring out a more permanent solution for Dreamers. Can you tell us more about that?
EA: Yes, so right now I mean, just just like always, you know Congress works in a quid pro quo way. So a lot of Democrats in the House want to bring the DREAM Act to the floor and vote on it. Some Republicans in Congress do not want that … of course they want to more provisions to this proposition. Therefore they want to add more agents to the border, right because …
WC: That’s what I’ve heard is that some Republicans in Congress, they want to criminalize more people, they want to deport more people and they want to make the border even more militarized and that’s part of the problem, if they want to add all this stuff to the Dream Act before they vote on it.
EA: Yeah and that’s what I think that I’m concerned about too because If that was the case then, that may mean that I get to stay here my parents get deported. You know how is that going to help me? But at the end of the day, my parents are “dreamers” too. Who I am now as a person and that these values that I have and principles they really came from my parents. I wouldn’t have been able to go to college if it wasn’t for my parents. I don’t think I want, you know, for me to get permanent residency if it means my parents get deported. I wouldn’t want the kind of law.
WC: When our producer connected with you last summer you were pretty outspoken about your experience in detention. Do you have any second thoughts about doing that now?
EA: I really do feel a little bit afraid actually to be honest. So I feel like if I you know speak up sometimes I don’t know I don’t know the government you know my just listen to this podcast and try to find who I am. So in a way I do feel a little afraid but the only weapon that I have is my voice. I have to use it.
WC: So what would you like people listening to this to do, to respond to what’s happening right now?
EA: You know working for an elected official I can see how the pressure from the people can really affect their decisions in the way that they vote. So let’s go out and put some pressure on these elected officials you know call your senator call your representative and demand that they pass a DREAM Act. We need the support from the whole community: not just the immigrant community and people of color or the LGBT community. We need everybody support on this. We just need to stay optimistic and really keep pushing through. You know I was hearing this the other day, progress in America it’s not like rising slope. Progress in America is more like a zigzag line. Sometimes it goes up. Sometimes it goes down and up and down and up again. So we just need to really stay positive and stay optimistic and just do what we can. Even if it’s a thirty second call, if that’s the only thing you can do then please do that.
WC: There’s a lot of tough stuff happening right now. How do you stay optimistic? How do you find joy in the midst of all this bad news?
EA: You know I have family here in the U.S. too. So when I see the future generation growing I think that brings me a lot of joy. It seems that sometimes the government is on a mission to try to get rid of us but they never will be able to. It is a fact that in the future, you know that the majority are going to be minorities. It just brings a lot of joy to see you know the little ones, to see my nephews and nieces and that in somehow you know they were born here and they do have protection. And yeah I think I just want to help them to be conscious of the struggle that their ancestors you know their family before there’s you know how to endure to come here to the United States. And I think that is the same you know privilege that a lot of people who are born here now enjoy. That’s what really brings me happiness right now seeing my little nephews and nieces growing up.
WC: Thanks so much, Eddy. It was really great talking to you.
EA: Yeah well thank you so much well for this opportunity.
WC: You’ve been listening to a podcast extra of “Indefensible: Stories of people resisting deportation.” I’m Will Coley. If this is the first time you’ve listened to the series be sure to go back and hear more stories of people who are facing exile from their families. They say they’re here to stay. This podcast is brought to you with the support of the Immigrant Defense Project and the Four Freedoms Fund. Andrew Ingkavet composed the music. KalaLea edited this episode and Anne Pope is our audio engineer. Special thanks to Mark Bramhill. Let us know what you thought of the series by rating and commenting on Apple podcast or ever you get your podcast. It helps others find these stories. Thanks for listening.