On March 5, Karrie Centeno, a Rio Grande Valley resident, was arrested in Washington, D.C., as part of a national day of action urging Congress to pass a clean Dream Act.
In a video filmed before her arrest by United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led network, Centeno explained her motivation to join 900 immigrants and allies in D.C.
“The reason I’m fighting and standing with my undocumented immigrant community is (because) I see a lot of injustices where I’m from,” Centeno said in the emotional video. “I see I.C.E. and (border patrol) agents coming to my colonias, terrorizing my people, isolating them to the shadows, making them feel like they don’t belong here when they have every right, like all of us in this country have.”
“This fight is for my best friend, Nellie, who is a DACA recipient back at home,” Centeno said in the video. “She is my motivation every day… So if you see this, Nellie, this is for you, girl.”
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and it is a program that protects young immigrants from deportation and provides work permits.
March 5 marked the deadline set by the Trump administration for Congress to act after the administration’s abrupt decision to rescind DACA in 2017.
Since then, a serious of court rulings have allowed those who have previously had DACA to renew their permit, but new applicants are not accepted in the deferred action program.
About 28,000 young immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley were impacted by the decision to rescind DACA, according to data from Migration Policy Institute.
MPI data shows Hidalgo County is home to an estimated 21,000 DACA eligible individuals. In Cameron County, there are an estimated 7,000 eligible individuals. It did not include data for Starr and Willacy County. Texas is the state with the second highest DACA-eligible population with about 271,000 individuals.
Immigrants who previously had DACA before the announcement by the Trump administration can still renew, as explained by immigrant right’s group La Union Del Pueblo Entero.
“DACA is still alive and immigrant youth can continue to renew if they have previously had DACA,” LUPE explained on the organization’s website. “But beginning (March 5), the number of youth at risks of losing status increases, and hundreds of thousands more remain without protection from being ripped from their families.”