WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A pair of Wichita Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients said they feel betrayed by President Donald Trump and his decision to rescind the DACA program.
“When he (Attorney General Jeff Sessions) stated that these are passionate moves on his behalf and Trump’s administration, it stabbed my heart. There was nothing passionate about what he and Trump decided to do by ending DACA,” said Tony Ibarra.
Tony Ibarra, 19, and his twin brother Alex Ibarra moved from Mexico to the United States when they were 3 years old.
“That was because of poverty. The town we were in was really, we didn’t have the best conditions. We didn’t have paved roads. The economy was kind of failing us,” said Alex Ibarra. “We seemed to notice that America, people were living the dream here, and we decided to move, and hopefully, this would happen to us.”
The two said their childhood was fairly normal. They said their mom and grandma would often talk about life in Mexico, but it wasn’t until the boys entered middle school that they realized they were different from some of their friends.
“I would say about 7th grade that my mom finally told us, ‘you don’t have a social security’ and I didn’t understand at that moment what that meant exactly. I didn’t know what challenges would be ahead by not having one,” said Tony.
Tony said the challenges hit during high school when he was applying for college, applying for scholarships, trying to get a job and trying to get a driver’s license. In 2013, the twins applied for the DACA program, a program that protects nearly 800,000 young adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children. As DACA recipients, the twins have been able to come out of the shadows and obtain valid driver’s licenses, enroll in college and legally secure jobs. They also pay income taxes.
“Oh gosh, it means a lot to be able to work in this great country, to be able to go to school in these great universities, to be able to do my taxes, to be able to drive without having the fear of being deported when stopped. It means a lot. It means the world to me,” Tony said.
“Before DACA was signed by Obama in 2012, I was living in fear. I knew that I was undocumented. I knew any mistake could get me deported and when DACA was introduced, it was just this weight off your shoulders,” Alex said.
However, the Ibarra’s, who graduated at the top of their Wichita West High School class, said that weight came barreling down on them on Tuesday when the Trump administration decided to end the DACA program.
“When Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that they would be rescinding DACA was sort of like betrayal,” Tony said.
The Trump administration gave Congress a six-month window to act before any currently protected individuals lose their ability to work, study and live without fear in the U.S. On Wednesday, Trump said he believes Congress will come up with a legislative solution to provide immigration protections for young undocumented immigrants.
“I’d like to see something where we have good border security, and we have a good DACA transaction where everybody is happy and now they don’t have to worry about it anymore because obviously as you know before it was not a legal deal, it was a deal that wouldn’t have held up and didn’t hold up. And even President Obama when he did it, when he signed it, he said this is obviously not something. He called it short-term. I’d like to see a permanent deal and I think it’s going to happen. I think we’re going to have great support from both sides of Congress and I really believe that Congress is going to work very hard on the DACA agreement and come up with something,” President Donald Trump said during a Wednesday news conference.
The Ibarras said they are hopeful Americans will understand the positive impact DACA recipients have had on the country.
“I believe the only solution to at least get them to open their mind is inform them about the facts. We cannot be protesting violently in the streets. It must be peacefully. Inform them with all of the actual facts of what we stand, the jobs we create, the revenue we generate in this country, the businesses we own, the taxes we pay,” Tony said. “People like my brother and I, thousands across this nation, hundreds and thousands across this nation, are here to fight for our future and the future of this country only. We are here to make a positive impact and nothing else.”
“I hope that the Americans here, everyone here, I hope that they see the good in us. That we aspire to be just as American as everybody else in our hearts, in our minds, we just don’t have it on paper, but that doesn’t limit us. We feel like we can be so much more in the country and on DACA, to allow us to grow, just to be accepting of who we are. At the end of the day we are all humans,” Alex said.
Tony and Alex said they will fight to stay in the U.S. and complete their degrees at Wichita State. Tony said he aspires to be a mechanical engineer. Alex said he hopes to one day become a commercial real estate guru.