In September, President Trump ordered an end to the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, launched in 2012 by President Obama. He told Congress to develop a permanent plan, but now he's rejected a bipartisan approach agreed to by Senators of both political parties.
DACA protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. It permits program beneficiaries -- the Dreamers -- to remain in America without fear of deportation and gives them the right to work here legally.
President Trump gave Congress six months to extend those protections legislatively, a period that runs out in March. Until that solution is reached -- if it is -- these young men and women have no idea what their future will bring.
Jonathan (Ivan) Reyes-Diaz, who now lives in Myrtle Beach, SC, is one of those Dreamers. America is home. He has lived here since walking across the desert with his uncle when he was just 13, more than a decade ago. His goal was to find work to support his sick mother, who later died of cancer.
Now, at 26, he is married and has a family of his own.
But today, one stroke of President Trump’s pen threatens Ivan’s DACA status, and unless he and Congress agree soon to codify protections for the Dreamers, he and thousands of other Dreamers eventually face deportation to countries many have never known.
For Ivan, that would rip his family apart.
"This is my home," he says. "I have nothing in Mexico."
During his time here, Ivan has become educated even while working to send money home. He has a good job building outdoor kitchens and patios. He speaks English fluently. And his goal? To obtain the necessary documents so he can attend the police academy and follow in his father's footsteps as a policeman.
And even if he succeeds in becoming a policeman, Ivan says he intends to open a business. "I want to be something better," he says. "I want to contribute to America."
It's time for Congress and President Trump to stop playing politics and protect Ivan and others who are part of the DACA program. They are contributing in a positive way to our country. They are helping to make America great.