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This Paramedic Who Worked Six Days Straight During Hurricane Harvey May Be Deported after Trump Ends DACA
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10 Sep 2017 02:37 PM EST

-by Chanel Adams, Staff Writer; Image: Jesus Contreras (Image Source: MSNBC Screenshot)

Jesus Contreras was considered a "hero" amid the recovery efforts in Houston. The paramedic worked six days straight saving Hurricane Harvey victims in his home state of Texas.

Last week, he learned that U.S. President Donald Trump will rescind the government program that protects 800,000 immigrants, otherwise known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Contreras is an undocumented immigrant who was brought to the U.S. by his mother when he was just 6 years old. He sat down for an exclusive interview with As It Happens host Carol Off. Contreras explained his reaction when he heard about Trump's plans to do away with "Dreamers."

"It was just a complete 180," Contreras said. "We just got done with one storm and we're facing yet another."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday the government would begin scaling down the Obama-era DACA program. He called it "an unconstitutional exercise of authority." He also said that the U.S. "cannot admit everyone who would like to come here." Atermio Muniz, chair of the Texas Federation of Hispanic Republicans, told BuzzFeed News that Contreras is just one of the many DACA recipients who have to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey while they're uncertain of their future. Contreras says he has friends, family, and colleagues who are also on the program.

"We kind of got kicked while we were down dealing with the hurricane and we got kicked around by the president," he said. "But we've been trying to work through it and push through."

The Trump administration gave Congress six months to come up with a plan for DACA before the government stops renewing permits for people covered under the program. Contreras explained what will happen to him in the next six months, if nothing is worked out.

"After this six-month period, if there is no resolution with DACA, then that means I lose my license to practice, I lose my job, you know, I lose my friends, my family, everything that I've worked for here," Contreras continued. "I'm not an anomaly. …There's many, many, many like me that are doing the same thing, that are giving back to their community, that are working hard for the nation to be, you know, model citizens."

Trump claims that he loves all children. He didn't give a reason why he wanted to rescind DACA. But throughout most of his campaign, he made a promise that he would do away with it. Now, he's singing a different tune.

"I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents," Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. "But we must also recognize that we are a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws."

Contreras calls Trump's decision on DACA "disgusting." He hopes that the president will go back on his promise on Dreamers "with heart." Contreras is willing to fight for his rights. But that doesn't mean that he will get angry.

"And right now, that Goliath is Trump. It's the government. But we here, like David, are fighting and we're going to overcome this Goliath and we're going to make a story for ourselves and be in history as advocates, as successful people and as citizens of the United States," he said.

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