Mark Zuckerberg already said rescinding DACA is a bad idea. Now he's reiterating his point with help from those whose lives are in legal limbo.
The Facebook CEO held a live video chat Wednesday on the social network with three undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers. They urged Congress to take swift action and pass legislation that would avoid ending DACA, also known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
President Donald Trump's decision Tuesday to officially rescind DACA, an Obama-era immigration program that gives work and student visas to people brought to the US illegally as children, leaves as many as 800,000 Dreamers at risk of losing their jobs and subject to deportation. Trump administration officials said the program will be phased out over the next six months.
"To offer the American Dream to people, and then to take it away and punish people for trusting their government and coming out of the shadows ... is just one of the most troubling things I think I've seen in a long time for our country," Zuckerberg said.
He added that half the major technology companies were founded by immigrants and that of the five biggest, about 40 percent are run by people who came from outside the US.
"Immigration is a really complicated issue," he said during the nearly hour-long chat at his home in Palo Alto, California. "Everyone cares deeply about having a safe country and making sure we can have a vibrant economy and ... the best people that can do the best work and have the best ideas."
The three people he spoke with on the livestream were Leezia Dhalla, Tomas Evangelista and Maria Praeli, each of whom is a DACA recipient.
Dhalla, who works in communications for FWD.us, an immigration advocacy group founded by Zuckberberg, said she came to the US with her family from Canada 21 years ago. With DACA, Dahalla said she's been able to live out her dream, graduate from college, get a job, buy a car and a home. Now, she's facing uncertainty.
"It was so transformative just mentally knowing I was able to give back to a country that I call home," she said. "For me it's hard to reconcile the fact that even today, I'm technically undocumented because I feel American in every single way."
Evangelista, a program manager at the Latino Leadership Council, who was born in Mexico, said "all we're asking for is a chance." He said if Congress doesn't act, many undocumented people will live in the shadows for fear of deportation.
Praeli, whose family emigrated from Peru nearly two decades ago, recalled how as a teen she lied to friends about why she couldn't get her driver's license and why she couldn't receive federal financial aid when applying to college. She and her family didn't have proper documentation.
A policy associate at Fwd.us., Praeli, then shared that when her grandmother died in Peru in 2013, her mother couldn't attend the funeral for fear of not being able to return to the US. She ended up watching the service on an iPad.
"I'll never forget the screams my mother had," she said. "She was hugging the iPad as if she was hugging her mother one last time."
Praeli worries that she may have to return to a country she doesn't know. She urged those watching to contact Congress and push for reform.
"We need all of your support because the lives of 800,000 people are depending on it," she said.
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