Paramedic Who Spent Week Rescuing People In Houston Among Those Threatened By End Of DACA

"You're out there giving your heart out — and then you find out this might happen."

Jesus Contreras earned his paramedic certification last year at a community college in Houston. Last week, he worked six days straight to help rescue people from the flooding across the city. When he wasn't out, he was at a fire station, waiting for the next call. 



While he wasn't born there, Contreras has lived in Houston the majority of his life. He grew up there, went to school there and volunteered there. However, when he took a moment to return to his home Thursday and catch up on the news, he found that his home was potentially about to be taken from him. 

"Hearing that my future in the United States is being threatened and possibly taken away was disheartening, it was disappointing," Contreras told Buzzfeed News. "It was like getting an extra kick to the face when you're already down."

Contreras is one of the nearly 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative that protects individuals who were brought illegally into the U.S. as kids from deportation. The program allows for undocumented immigrants who came to America before they were 16 a chance to study and work in the country so long as they meet certain conditions. Per NBC News, Contreras and his mother arrived in America when he was 6 from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico hoping to escape the violence in their native country.

The executive order that created DACA was signed by former president Barack Obama in June 2012. Now, the future of the estimated 1.1 million individuals, often known as Dreamers, who qualify for the program remains unclear. President Donald Trump has hinted he will suspend the program, but the White House has stated an official announcement will come next week. 

"I worked for six days helping with disaster relief," said Contreras. "And if DACA had been removed in the middle of that, I would've been taken off the ambulance. You're out there giving your heart out — and then you find out this might happen."

While the program remains in jeopardy, many politicians and public figures have voiced their support. The CEOs of tech companies including Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Electronic Arts, Pandora, Snap and Facebook published an open letter Friday urging Trump to continue DACA.

"Dreamers have a special love for this country because they can't take living here for granted," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post. "They understand all the opportunities they have and want nothing more than the chance to serve their country and their community. And Dreamers deserve that chance."

Cover image via Rena Schild / Shutterstock

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