DACA recipients share their stories through Orlando art project

By Cheryn Stone, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, November 16, 2017, 5:26 PM EST

Fear of deportation, separation and the unknown grips many immigrants in Central Florida.

  • DACA recipients tell stories through special Orlando art project
  • Recipients fear deportation if DACA gets canceled
  • Dreamers urge people to ask reps for clean DREAM Act

DACA, the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program, will shape the future of these families.

The stories of Dreamers and immigrants in Orlando were shared at the “60 Seconds in My Shoes” event Wednesday and Thursday. These Dreamers are DACA recipients who came to the U.S. illegally as minors and built a life in America. They are sharing their stories to keep their dreams alive through a special project.

“I want my mom to be protected and safe,” said one young girl as she stepped in front of the microphone to speak to a crowd of listeners.  

DACA recipient and event organizer Ahtziry Barrele said, “I am lucky enough I live in a place where I can share my story openly, but I know of a lot of other DACA recipients that can’t even mention they are DACA.”

The global art movement creates a visual way for people to stand up for a cause. The display shows pictures of local people who support the Dreamers and their goals.

The storytelling was accompanied by the Inside Out Project.

"I think art can play a huge role in activism because you put something like this up and people are confused," said Joshua Guyer with the Inside Out Project. "They want to know, ‘who are these people?’ So that’s a big part of it, just creating the conversation.”

DACA recipient and speaker Hugo Chavie’s story could change. His dream may become a nightmare cloaked in uncertainty.

"This upcoming March we’re going to know what’s going to be happening to DACA if they are going to keep it and let it expire, or if it’s going to be canceled," he explained.

If DACA disappears, Chavie could be deported along with his parents, while his siblings stay here. His younger brother and sister are U.S. citizens.

"They face getting adopted by a different family," he said.

The Trump administration announced plans to end DACA, the Obama era policy that protects Dreamers from deportation.

"I have a younger brother that I couldn’t even fathom you know saying goodbye to and also the business here that I have," Barrele said. "It’s just going to be really hard to be uprooted from my home basically."

"Or we face a criminal and not being able to call to police because we’re going to be scared," Chavie added.

While the Dreamers can see the faces of their supporters through the art project, they hope to show the impact of policies like the Dream Act. They hope their stories and dreams will inspire others to take action.

The Dreamers are asking people to contact their elected officials. On the local level, that means pushing for a Trust Act Ordinance in Orlando to protect immigrants during interactions with city police. They ask supporters to call their representatives and ask for a clean DREAM Act, a federal plan to create a path to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants.