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For DACA Recipients, President's Temporary Offer Feels Like More Chaos


For more reaction, we are joined now by Greisa Martinez Rosas. She's with United We Dream, a DACA advocacy organization. And she's a DACA recipient herself.

Good morning.

GREISA MARTINEZ ROSAS: Buenas Dias. Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good morning. To remind our listeners, DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, aimed at giving legal immigration status to those brought to the U.S. without documents as kids. And that includes the so-called DREAMers. So what is your reaction to the president's offer?

MARTINEZ ROSAS: Yeah. So DACA is a program that - I'm someone that is lucky enough to be able to be protected by. And what Donald Trump said yesterday was officially, you know, just another trick and another cruel game to try to trick the American public that he wants to open the government. If he could and if he wanted to, he could protect me and the TPS holders. He could ensure that the 800,000 federal workers would go back to work tomorrow. But he doesn't. He wants to keep our country in chaos.

And, honestly, I'm very concerned. This is - continues to be a tactic of his. And it doesn't just impact immigrants like myself or those immigrants that are in detention centers. It means that there's one person in this country that feels so strongly that he's the one in the right that he is willing to hold all of us hostage. And all of the advancements and all of the changes that we need do not move unless he wants it to. And so, you know, I'm disappointed. I am - but I am - I'm committed to continue to fight until we're able to retake our democracy from this man.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So President Trump says that he is very interested in border security. He now talks about the wall in a completely different way, saying it's only going to be in certain sections. So far in the wrangling over this barrier, there's been no mention of DACA, unlike the last time. The Democrats say they want that to be a separate issue. Do you think permanent protections for DACA should be part of these negotiations?

MARTINEZ ROSAS: Look. What's important for me when I think about the current conversation around borders and the detention and more deportation agents that Trump is also demanding with border money is that this is part of his white nationalist agenda, that he wants to use me, the federal workers and TPS people to have an exchange conversation. And what is clear to me is that these are definitely different conversations. There's one about protecting people that he himself...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But are you asking the Democrats? This is about the Democrats. Are you asking them to solve this issue and put it on the table in the negotiations with President Trump?

MARTINEZ ROSAS: Look. What we need is permanent protection. And what he is offering is not that. And what I think that the Democrats should pass - permanent protection for immigrating people that do not come at the cost of more enforcement, more money for the wall, more agents, more detention centers.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So it shouldn't be part of these negotiations then.

MARTINEZ ROSAS: That's right.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. The Supreme Court hasn't yet taken up DACA. The court is likely to do so, though. And there's no guarantee how it would rule. That seems to portend a ticking clock. Does that make you nervous without a deal?

MARTINEZ ROSAS: (Laughter) I think that life under Trump has been really nerve-wracking, I will say. So yes, it's something that we're keeping our eye on. I think that there is a possibility that they decide to not grant the ability for the Supreme Court to hear the case. And so I am looking at the optimistic side but preparing for all cases. And I do know that people are - we're asking people to apply for DACA renewals, which means that more people get more protection for a longer time. So we're keeping our eye on it while at the same time, calling for Congress to defund money for these agencies that are the ones responsible for deporting us and detaining us.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Greisa Martinez Rosas, deputy executive director of the immigrant advocacy organization United We Dream. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

MARTINEZ ROSAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.
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