Tomás Evangelista hasn’t been able to sleep very much the last couple of days.
As a DACA recipient, Evangelista has been worried about the imminent threat of the repeal of the DACA program that has giving him so much.
“It gets me emotional to think that DACA would be revoke,” said the 27-year-old Auburn resident. “I would be expose to possible deportation, that is very scary to think about to be honest.”
Since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was implemented in 2012, approximately 800,000 dreamers across the country have been able to come out of the shadows, have been able to work legally, pay taxes, served their communities as well as in the military without fear of deportation. Of those dreamers, 200,000 live in California.
DACA has also allowed dreamers to obtain driver’s licenses, health insurance, open bank accounts, provide for their families, etc.
In Stanislaus County alone, there are approximately 8,000 DACA eligible individuals.
If DACA is revoke there is not really another country for Evangelista to go back to.
He came to the United States from the very small town of Morelita, Guerrero, México when he was only 2-years-old.
The United States has been the only county he has known for a quarter of a century.
His father abandoned his family and left them in the poor town in México which lead to his mother to migrate to the United States in search of a better life for her family.
When Evangelista was 6 years old, his mother died and he had to move to Northern California to live with his grandparents.
Growing up in California, Evangelista ran cross country and track during high school and attended American River College where he received his associate degree in social science.
Evangelista received an athletic scholarship and went to California State University, Stanislaus where he obtained his bachelors degree in kinesiology in 2014.
For Evangelista, coming out of the shadows an undocumented immigrant wasn’t easy.
“It was a tough decision I had to make,” said Evangelista who currently works for Latino Leadership Council, a non-profit organization where he works as mental health outreach program manager.
Evangelista said he was very thankful to have saved all the documents from his childhood – anything from doctor’s notes to playing sports – something that showed proof that he has been in the United States since he was little in order to apply to the DACA program.
Evangelista said even paying the $465 application fee was not easy for him.
“It’s a merit base program, it is not amnesty,” He said, adding that DACA is only a bandage for what needs to be done when it comes to immigration reform. “It’s not easy at all.”
Evangelista recently shared his story during a “Candid Conversation” event with Republican Congressman Jeff Denham, R-Turlock on Tuesday, Aug. 29 on the importance of the DACA program as well as a discussion on the contributions of dreamers to their communities and the Central Valley economy and the urgent need for a permanent legislative solution for dreamers.
The event, held at the Princeton Event Center in Modesto, was hosted by FWD.US, a bipartisan organization to promote policies to keep the United States competitive in a global economy starting with commonsense immigration reform and criminal justice reform.
“Congress needs to act now to find a legislative solution for Dreamers who for years have been stuck in limbo,” said Denham. “Recent events only highlight the urgency of determining a path forward for those young adults, and I will continue to fight for them to be able to stay in the only home they have ever known.”
Denham said this is a critical time and congress needs to do its job to find a solution on the immigration reform issue.
When it comes to dreamers and immigration reform, Denham said, “it is now a generational issue and we need to solve it once and for all.”
Approximately there are 61,000 DACA-eligible individuals living in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties.,
“We are in fear. It’s very hard to sleep at night,” Evangelista said of his fear of DACA being revoke by President Donald Trump this week.
He said Dreamers like him are not asking for citizenship now, but are “asking for an opportunity” that would open the door for them to proof that they are worthy like they have been doing with DACA.
“If we crack the door open, we will move forward and will have an opportunity to show we are great citizens of this country,” Evangelista said.
In a media call on Aug. 28, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said DACA program is so very important.
Becerra said they are ready to do what they can to defend the DACA program in court.
“We are exploring every option, using any tools at our disposal,” Becerra said. “We feel confident this is a lawful initiative. We would be able to go there and defend the program in court.”