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A 'dreamer' opens up about life under Trump: ‘The psychological trauma is real’

Juan Escalante is a DACA-recipient who was born in Venezuela and lives in in Tallahassee, Fla. He reveals what it is like to be a "dreamer" under the Trump administration.
Photo by Melissa Artieda
Juan Escalante is a DACA-recipient who was born in Venezuela and lives in in Tallahassee, Fla. He reveals what it is like to be a "dreamer" under the Trump administration.

It's the anxiety, uncertainty and exhaustion that come through in Juan Escalante's first-person account of trying to live life as a "dreamer" under the Trump administration.

"WHAT IF: ... Trump deports my parents," tweets Escalante. "What will happen to: our car leases, mortgages, student loans, relationships, degrees," he worries.

So-called dreamers such as Escalante are undocumented immigrants who grew up in the U.S. and who were granted temporary protection from deportation and allowed to work through President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals administrative program. DACA was available to those under the age of 31 by June 15, 2012.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump dealt a blow to "dreamers" by ending DACA.

Trump says he is upholding his "highest duty" — "to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America." Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that DACA was an executive overreach on the part of Obama and was thereby unlawful.

Tuesday night President Trump tweeted that if Congress can't come up with a new immigration policy in six months, he will "revisit" the issue.

For Escalante, 28, and others like him, each rule change, each day and month that there is another delay in coming up with a permanent solution, is a painful extension of an already emotional process.

Escalante and his parents immigrated from Venezuela with a visa but, due to an error with the immigration paperwork, his entire family lost their legal status, his communications representative tells CNBC Make It. Because he was undocumented, he grew up without much hope of being able to make anything of himself.

"Imagine being 11 years old, and after living in the United States for over 10 years, you are consistently reminded that you would not be able to accomplish much due to your immigration status. That you wouldn't get a job, go to college or be accepted in the country that you grew up in due to your immigration status," Escalante says, in a Medium post. "That is, of course, after graduating from high school, trying to navigate the country's broken immigration system, and paying taxes.

"Thanks to DACA, Dreamers have been able to build their lives, go to school and invest in the economy by buying a home or a car," says Escalante, who lives and works in Tallahassee, Fla. His two brothers also have DACA status.

"The thought that you would be STRIPPED off your DACA status is not just traumatizing, it's dehumanizing and exhausting," says Escalante via Twitter.

Escalante is the digital campaigns manager for America's Voice, an immigration advocacy group.

Read, below, what he calls a "101 guide" for what it feels like for DACA recipients in the current political climate. He emphasizes the "psychological trauma" of living under such uncertainty.