Two weeks ago Hurricane Harvey hit Texas with all of its fury and delivered a powerful blow from Corpus Christi to Beaumont. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed or significantly damaged and dozens of folks lost their lives due to the severe flooding caused by record amounts of rainfall that led to the overflow of the local lakes, bayous, rivers, and creeks.
Yet in the midst of all this despair and devastation, inspiring tales of courage, love and compassion have emerged. Hundreds of ordinary Texans answered the call of duty and aided first responders. These folks launched their own boats into the flooded streets and bayous and pulled survivors and pets out of the dangerous and toxic waters.
Some of these rescuers paid for their unselfish and heroic deeds with their lives, like Alonso Guillen and his friend Tomas Carreon. Against the advice of his concerned father, Alonso, joined by Tomas, disregarded his own safety and drove with a boat in tow from his home in Lufkin to the Houston area to help with the rescues. Tragically, they both drowned in the raging waters after their boat capsized in the late night darkness as they attempted to reach victims stranded at a flooded apartment complex.
Alonso was living in the United States without permanent resident alien status. Born in Mexico, he was brought to our country without the proper immigration documentation as a small child by his parents. He was what many Americans refer to as an “illegal alien.” Alonso considered himself an American albeit without the required legal documentation, but certainly with all the requisite heart, soul, and spirit that defines Americanism. He was a “Dreamer.”
Alonso had received temporary protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals implemented by former President Barack Obama in 2012, which has allowed certain immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year work permit and deferral from deportation. About 800,000 people, referred to as “Dreamers” after the proposed DREAM Act, have enrolled in the DACA program since its implementation.
None of them have any criminal history and all of them speak English, are full-time students, gainfully employed, or serve in our military. Some are even heroes, although DACA eligibility does not require any acts of heroism.
At the launch of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump referred to Alonso and others like him from Mexico as criminals, rapists and murderers. Alonso was exactly the sort of immigrant that Attorney General Jeff Sessions wishes to see deported as he announced last week the end of the DACA program in six months.
While Sessions was drooling over the prospects of more deportations, President Trump was expressing his deep “love” for the Dreamers.
It looks like Attorney General Sessions will have one less Dreamer to deport and President Trump will have one less Dreamer to love. Alonso, you are a hero who had a dream. That dream lives on.