One hundred and thirty-six days. That’s how long it took for Donald Trump to go back on his promise to the young immigrants who qualified under the DREAM Act to get a temporary delay of deportation under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). For one young man saving lives in Houston, however, Trump’s phase-out of the DACA program won’t matter. He gave his life for his fellow Americans.
I say Americans because DREAMers are those who came here through no choice of their own when they were young. Like, very young. There’s actually no such thing as an immigrant who benefits from DACA that’s older than their unofficial theme song, “The Waiting,” by Tom Petty. That would make the very oldest person eligible just 36 years old today. I reckon if you got here anytime after 1980, you’re as American as they come.
And if you’re born so close to the border that your first sight when you look north is the bank of the river that separates Mexico from Texas, you’re only moments away.
Alonso Guillen was a beneficiary of deferred action. But his own actions could not be swayed in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. His father Jesus asked him not to go out in the storm, but the 31-year-old DJ couldn’t stay put. He got into a boat with his friends and they went out to rescue people as best they could. They did so until their boat hit a bridge Wednesday night and capsized. One of the friends on the mission with him was found alive, clinging to a tree. Alonso was pulled from the floodwaters on Sunday, his heroism spent.
As Alonso’s family, watchful for days, finally spotted his body floating by and pulled him to shore, Jesus Guillen cried and prayed for his dead son.
Thank you God, for the time I had with him.”
Trump intends to end the DACA program within six months. But imagine if instead of promising immigrants they could “rest easy” less than six months ago, he had implemented his plan immediately. How many lives would Alonso Guillen have been unable to save in his adopted home just five hours from his birthplace?
My guess is that Donald Trump doesn’t care.
Featured image via Scott Olson/Getty Images