What do DREAMers say about Jeb Bush?


President Obama’s deportation relief program is a lifeline to more than 600,000 young undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

But if Jeb Bush is elected president, the fate of the program and similar initiatives would be uncertain, according to three DREAMers interviewed by Fusion.

All three young people have deportation relief through Obama’s temporary program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). They also support Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), a similar initiative for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents that’s currently stalled in federal court.

Whether Bush would continue the programs is a huge concern for DREAMers. He’s spoken out against Obama’s moves to grant deportation relief as an abuse of presidential power, but believes Congress should “change the law” to allow some undocumented young people to stay in the U.S.

A spokesperson for the former Florida governor did not return a request for comment.

Here’s what these young people would like to see Bush address during his run for office:

Reyna Montoya
Age: 24
Born: Tijuana, Mexico
Lives: Mesa, Arizona
Works: high school teacher
Volunteers: Community organizing


I’ve been affected directly by deportations. My dad is going through the process. He was detained for nine months and he was released because of all the work that the community was able to do. Right now, he has to go back to court this summer again. It’s like we have this uncertainty and we always live in this limbo.

Jeb Bush needs to be very, very clear if he’s actually going to be siding with immigrants, what are going to be his steps and his policy beyond saying, “Yes, I like immigrants and I’m not going to deport them.”

I understand that not all Republicans are the same way, but if he starts aligning himself with anti-immigrants such Steve King, who has called us drug mules, I think that’s something that will make me a little nervous. I want to hear from him and hear exactly what he plans to do. And I also would like to hear if he intends to repeal or take away DACA from DREAMers.

Education and the Common Core

I teach at a Title One school and the majority of my students are Latinos. One of my biggest concerns is that some of these Common Core curriculums, they seem really good and they seem to be rigorous, but sometimes they’re very culturally biased. And they don’t address in a holistic way how my students are doing every day.

There’s this emphasis on standardized tests, but they don’t really measure the intelligence of my students. Instead, sometimes they measure wealth, they measure being culturally aware. My students might not have grown up with those things.

Tony Choi
Age: 26
Born: South Korea
Hometown: Little Ferry, New Jersey
Job: seeking work in tech, communications or public relations


I would definitely like him to break from the fray because right now, no candidate has expressed any pro-immigrant agenda. Ted Cruz for example, has been virulently anti-immigrant in all of his positions. And Marco Rubio has been very flip-flop on all of his positions.

Right now, I think his priority should be finding a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants. I feel like I’m living on borrowed time because I have to renew my deferred action every two years. It’s like a ticking time bomb before I run out of a solution.

If Bush is elected and does not extend the deferred action program, then my future here is up in limbo. All my hopes and dreams will have been for nothing, and I would have to go back into the underground economy again or possibly go back to Korea.

Income inequality

Working-class folks made America what it is and our economy is based on their labor. Right now, we’re seeing a tide anti-unionism and the rise of right-to-work laws, which is really disturbing because that takes away protections from all these workers.

It really is turning into a one percent versus 99 percent kind of a situation, because the wage gaps are increasing and more workers are falling out of the middle-class bracket.

I would like to see him push for a raise for minimum-wage workers, as well as supporting unions and repealing the right-to-work laws. But I can only wish so far, right?

Juan Escalante
Age: 26
Born: Caracas, Venezuela
Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida
Job: master’s student in public administration at Florida State University


Florida is currently one of the states that’s caught up in the lawsuit over DACA and DAPA. Why hasn’t Jeb Bush said something about this, in terms of what the plans are for his state?

He is unwilling to stand up to his own politicians in his party from his state in terms of the lawsuit, he is unwilling to give us a clear answer whether or not he will repeal DACA before or after passing a comprehensive immigration reform package, and he is unwilling to spell out what exactly the broader terms of his ideas are to fix a broken system [Note: Bush gave thoughts about reforming the federal immigration system in Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, a book he coauthored in 2014].

The main point to know about people like myself, and undocumented students as a whole, is that we don’t hold back. We hold every single person accountable, whether it’s a Republican or it’s a Democrat. These are people who are monitoring the issue very, very closely, especially those of us who qualify for deferred action.

We want to make sure that the opportunities that have been afforded to us up until this point—whether it’s that college degree or that driver’s licenses or that job that we’ve been seeking for so many years—are not taken apart because of partisan politics.

Hispanic outreach

If he’s trying to be a serious candidate that’s trying to sell a message to the Hispanic or the immigrant voting bloc, he needs to be straight up and tell us what exactly the positions are.

We’re just fed up with the talking points and the rhetoric that’s being sold to us. We want to make sure that we get concrete answers.

Quotes were edited for length and clarity.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.

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