Detroit ‘Dreamer’ Talks DACA, Immigration Reform

Jake Neher/WDET

Juan Gonzalez-Martinez

As Congress kicks off the latest round of negotiations over the budget and immigration, undocumented immigrants and their loved ones in Metro Detroit are pleading for help.

Many lawmakers are pushing for a budget resolution that includes a provision identical or similar to The Dream Act. That’s a law that would codify an Obama-era decision that protected these so-called ‘dreamers’ from deportation, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Meanwhile, right here in Metro Detroit, some immigrants have been deported as they wait for an answer.

After thirty years living in America, Jorge Garcia, a 39 year-old father living in Lincoln Park, was deported to Mexico. Garcia was brought to America by a family member when he was ten years old. He has a wife and two children, all of whom are U.S. citizens.

Other Detroit-area immigrants, like Juan Gonzalez-Martinez, are getting directly involved in the debate. 

Gonzalez-Martinez is a 24-year-old DACA recipient who grew up in Southwest Detroit, now living in Lincoln Park. He was brought to the United States when he was a year old. In recent months, he has been joining efforts organized by Michigan United to advocate for a solution on DACA. He and others sat in at Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s (D-MI) office this week demanding that she votes against any budget resolution that does not include a Dream Act provision or one that protects health care funding for children.

DACA… allowed me to get a work permit, allowed me to get a drivers license,” says Gonzalez-Martinez. “It allowed me, essentially, to come out of the shadows, to not be in the shadows anymore… Now, I work full time, I go to school full time… But with DACA in peril or in danger, it’s really up in the air.”

Henderson also speaks with Detroit Free Press reporter Niraj Warikoo, who has been reporting on Garcia’s deportation.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

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