Fortesa Latifi

Monday, Sept. 18, 2017

Trump deals with Democrats and DREAMers decide whether to believe

PHOENIX — “It’s like another board game for them. Both the Democrats and the Trump administration. It’s always a game and they’re gambling with our lives,” Francisco Luna said.

Last Wednesday, President Donald Trump had dinner with Democratic heavyweights Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. It was after that dinner when reports surfaced that a deal had been struck between the president and the Democrats regarding DACA.

And that’s when things got dicey, depending on who you asked.

Schumer and Pelosi issued a joint statement : “We had a very productive meeting at the White House with the President. The discussion focused on DACA. We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.”

However, Trump seemed to have a different version of events, per his tweets the following morning.

“No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote.”

In those tweets, Trump said the border wall, which was a staple of his campaign, will still be built.

In another message, however, he also asked “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?” Despite the fact he had previously said he would “immediately terminate” DACA after taking control of the White House.

Luna, a DACA recipient who was brought to the United States when he was 11 years old, said his first thought upon hearing of the deal was that it was just for show.

His second thought?

“It’s more of the political games and childish games that our current Congress has,” Luna said.

Ryan Cloughley, a member of the ASU Young Democrats, spent last Monday evening hosting a Write Your Senator event. While there, students wrote letters in support of DACA to Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, Arizona Representative Andy Biggs and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

Cloughley said he has no intentions of slowing down his campaign to protect DACA.

“I think it is imperative that the student body stays, to quote my colleagues, woke,” Cloughley said. “Donald Trump was elected because of political apathy. If we truly want an America that is of the people, by the people, for the people then we need to be active.”

From Cloughley’s point of view, the true relief will come if and when the DREAM Act is passed.

“Until that legislatively happens, the threat is as real as it was last week,” he said.

Edder Diaz Martinez, a DACA recipient and member of Undocumented Students for Education Equity, said he’s also still pushing for the passage of the DREAM Act and isn’t putting much stock into Trump’s deal with the Democrats.

“I was 11 the first time that the DREAM Act was introduced into Congress,” Martinez said. “We have heard of agreements like this countless times before. The DREAMer community is very jaded.”

In the meantime, Martinez and the organization he belongs to are not changing their course. Last weekend, they hosted a retreat for undocumented students which included helping students renew DACA and planning future action.

Petra Falcon of Promise Arizona, a local Latino voter outreach organization, said DREAMers say they can’t trust Trump’s deal.

“They don’t trust anything that’s coming out of the administration right now,” Falcon said.

Falcon said she was left with a bad taste in her mouth when details of the meeting between Trump, Pelosi and Schumer emerged.

“How can you trade young people’s lives for increased border security that is actually going to come after their own families?” Falcon said. “That’s a no-brainer that shouldn’t be on the table. Democrats should know better than that.”

Trump’s comments on DACA have ranged from a promise to “immediately terminate” the program to assuring dreamers they “shouldn’t be very worried.” Falcon said part of the anxiety the undocumented community is feeling is because of the sheer range of his statements on DACA.

“That’s the problem,” Falcon said. “He’s so wishy-washy on all issues. There is no rhyme or reason to how this president is governing.”

Joshua De La Ossa, an immigration lawyer in Phoenix, said many of his clients said they feel the same way.

“Under a normal administration, they might be more secure in taking an administration at its word,” De La Ossa said. “But with the current administration, things seem to change with the direction of the wind.”

De La Ossa’s advice to his clients is to continue with legal action and the proper procedures, including looking for other types of relief they may qualify for.

“Press on and move forward,” De La Ossa said.

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