An immigrant who was brought to the U.S. illegally as a child castigated Democrats, particularly Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), over the weekend for "using" Dreamers like him as political "pawns."
Hilario Yanez, a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides legal protections to nearly 800,000 Dreamers, praised President Donald Trump's stance on illegal immigration and blasted that of congressional Democrats during an appearance on Fox News.
"Let me begin by first thanking Donald Trump for his leadership, his compassion, and also the courage to take on this issue," Yanez said. "I believe we need to have border security."
Yanez, whose mother brought him to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of one, grew up in Houston, where his family suffered to make ends meet; he even became homeless for a time. In 2012, after the Obama administration established the DACA program, Yanez was able to receive a work permit. Since then, Yanez became the first person in his family to graduate from college, along the way interning at Fortune 500 companies like Chevron, among others.
Over the weekend, Yanez denounced national Democrats for lacking a clear vision for immigration reform.
"The Democratic leadership, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer have no clear message … At the end of the day, I think they've been using us as pawns," Yanez said. "They never should have shut down the government over DACA. We should never have held our American people and our military hostage. There is plenty of time on the table to fix this; March 5th is the deadline.
The Trump administration rescinded DACA in September and gave Congress six months to come up with alternative legislation for Dreamers. Last month, Senate Democrats refused to pass a spending bill unless a permanent fix to DACA was included, resulting in a three-day-long government shutdown. Democrats eventually relented, agreeing to a spending bill in exchange for assurances by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) that he would bring up immigration reform for a vote prior to DACA's formal expiration date on March 5.
Yanez noted that the Democratic Party had strong majorities in both chambers during the 111th Congress and controlled the White House, but chose not to act on immigration at the time, prioritizing health care and the economy.
"Democrats owned all three branches of government back in 2008 to 2011 and they still chose not to do anything," Yanez said. "At this point, I'm quite frustrated with the Democratic leadership."
Yanez said that he is hopeful that Trump and Republicans in Congress will finally act on immigration reform.
"The Republicans are in a unique position to really lead on this and really provide immigration reform that is long overdue," Yanez added. "And you can see Republicans are willing and ready to do something about it."