RELEASE: DREAMer Juan Escalante Says Ending the DACA Program Would Be a Severe Disruption in People’s Lives

Washington, D.C. — As advocates and DREAMers wait for a decision from the Trump administration on whether it will phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, recipient Juan Escalante, who has been fighting for the rights of immigrants like himself for years, is speaking out. Yesterday, on a special episode of the “Thinking CAP” podcast, Juan shared his compelling story with co-host Igor Volsky: his parents’ decision to immigrate from Venezuela when he was 11 years old, their grueling immigration process that was mishandled by lawyers, and the risk he took to represent his community and the rights of childhood arrivals even while it jeopardized his undocumented status.

“We’re talking about severe disruption in people’s lives should this program come to an end in the coming weeks or in the coming days,” said Escalante, on the impending decision from the Trump administration around DACA. “What we’ve seen thus far in the first half of this year is that this administration has exhibited an extreme record of anti-immigrant sentiment and a lack of perspective when it comes to the safety of the people whose lives they’re trying to destroy. They are pulling the rug from underneath almost a million people who benefit from this program.”

Juan’s story is the narrative often missing from partisan battles over immigration reform. Brought from Venezuela at a young age, and only finding out his undocumented status as an 18-year-old attempting to apply for college and get a job, Juan’s future is completely caught up in his parents’ decision to immigrate and their inability to do so legally after their lawyer mishandled the process.

“My parents went to every single appointment, they saved the money to give to the attorney, they filed the forms as the attorney had them file it.” Escalante notes in his interview on the podcast, “I had no idea that at 11, 12, 13, 14 years old there’s this huge paperwork process. You just go along with it, you figure that your parents have your back.”

The story from Juan Escalante dropped as the 21st episode of the “Thinking CAP” podcast, a project launched in May by the Center for American Progress. Over the past few months, hosts Michele Jawando and Igor Volsky have shared stories like Juan’s, as well as talking with leading progressive thought leaders, comedians, advocates, and politicians. New episodes are released everything Thursday. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Google Play, and CAP’s website.

For more information or for information on guest booking, please contact Sally Tucker at 202.481.8103 or sstucker@americanprogress.org.