When Jose Machado heard President Donald Trump was ending the immigration program keeping him in the country, he had a one-word response:
Machado and two other recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that they “convinced” Trump to support immigrant efforts to acquire legal status after they met him in 2013. Four years later, Trump said he is ending the program that protected the three from deportation after they were brought to the United States as children.
Gaby Pacheco, Diego Sánchez, and Machdo were on a tour to convince as many people as possible about the need to pass immigration reform like the DREAM Act, which would provide a path for permanent residency to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Specifically, they wanted to reach out to conservatives and Republicans like Trump.
During the meeting Pacheco said Trump was welcoming and asked questions about their stories, in addition to asking who “Latinos would be voting for in the upcoming election.”
“He, like many people, was misinformed about the issues of immigration,” she said. “He didn’t know that, for example, people who are here in the country don’t have access to get some sort of legal status. He thought that it was a matter of hiring an attorney or paying some sort of fee.”
Sánchez said that, at the time, they thought they had made progress by having the opportunity to sit down and “educate him on how the immigration system works.”
While she felt like Trump “started understanding some of it” during their meeting, Pacheco said “the lies that we hear were stronger and have influenced him deeper than our 45-minute conversation could have changed his mind.”
She said that while she is saddened by the end of DACA, a lot of people are also angry because “the president ending this program was unnecessary.”
“I’ve personally been in the country for 24 years. I am as much a part of this community as anyone else,” she said. “I am an American as anyone else. So for people to say that we are taking jobs that’s crazy because we are Americans. We’ve been part of this economy, we’ve grown up here, we’ve gone to school here, many of us have gone to college here.”
Sánchez said he angry and disappointed, but unsurprised by the announcement, given Trump’s promises to end the program since becoming president.
Still, he said he is hopeful that Congress will be able to pass immigration reform.
The DREAM Act has been introduced in congress several times since 2001, but has never passed. Despite past congressional failures, Sánchez said the president’s end to DACA has caused an unprecedented amount of political will from congressmen who have not always been strong supporters of the program, specifically citing recent statements made by Speaker Paul Ryan, Senator Thom Tillis, and Senator Orrin Hatch.
“I think there’s an opportunity now. We always knew that DACA was only temporary and that it was not a long term solution,” Sánchez said. “If this is going to lead to some sort of resolution then we ought to take advantage of that.”