Tomás Evangelista’s status as undocumented immigrant thwarted his dream to join the military and made it hard for him to find a job.
Now he’s trying to help other Dreamers like him — immigrants without papers who arrived in this country as children — contend with similar and more pressing problems including homelessness. He founded a group called California Dreamers, which provides a place for such immigrants to share their stories and experiences and tries to help them tackle the issues they face.
“We wanted to be the solution for some of the issues in our community,” Evangelista said in a Facebook Live video on Wednesday.
Evangelista was one of three Dreamers who joined Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his Palo Alto, California, home on Wednesday for a conversation about the Dreamers and the impact of President Trump’s decision on Tuesday to end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, which protects such immigrants from deportation. Facebook posted the streaming video on Zuckerberg’s personal page on the site.
“I just thought it would be good to sit down and talk with some Dreamers about their stories and hear what their experience was like getting DACA,” Zuckerberg said as he introduced Evangelista and two other Dreamers, named Lizette and Maria.
For his part, Evangelista talked about how his father had abandoned him before he was born and how his mother had died when he was six, after moving to this country to escape the poverty of the small Mexican town where he was born. He also talked about how he went to college and graduated with a degree in kinesiology before starting California Dreamers in his hometown of Auburn, California.
Throughout the video stream, Zuckerberg urged people to act on behalf of the Dreamers, to call their congressional representatives and advocate for a quick and permanent solution for the 800,000 people affected by the end of the program.
DACA reform is “the most clear cut of all the immigration issues,” he said. He added: “A full pathway to citizenship, a full per cent guarantee they will have permanent status here and be able to work, so that’s the thing we need to get done, and we have a limited time to do that.”
He also advertised Fwd.us, an immigration-focused organisation he cofounded, pointing people to the resources on the website.
This isn’t the first time Zuckerberg spoken up in favour of immigration reform. He’s been a vocal supporter of the DACA program throughout.
After posting an initial statement in support of Dreamers on his Facebook page last week, Zuckerberg took the time to debate with people disagreeing with him in the comment section. When US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the program Tuesday, Zuckerberg took to Facebook again calling it, “a sad day for our country.”
Before ending the video stream on Wednesday, Zuckerberg reiterated his plans to support the Dreamers.
“In a time when it can feel like the government doesn’t seem like it always has your back, I think it’s important you know a lot of people stand with you, and we are going to fight to stand with you,” he said.
You can watch the full conversation here: