Houston paramedic describes uncertainty for DACA recipients working on front lines

HOUSTON, TEXAS (KTRK) -- A paramedic, who's also a DACA recipient, shares what is now a typical day on the job and how his livelihood along with thousands of others could be threatened if the DACA program is not reinstated.

Jesus Contreras was 6 years old when he first moved to Houston, and he has called the city home ever since.

"My mom wanted to flee from the violence there (in Mexico)," Contreras said.

Contreras is one of 27,000 DACA recipients that work as a health care professional. Contreras said he was exhausted when he sat down to talk to ABC13. He just finished another 24-hour shift.

"It's a lot, you know. It's chaotic. It's unorganized," Contreras said. "Every call, we're helping someone who is having a bad day."

While working on the front lines of this pandemic, Contreras is also weary about his future. The Supreme Court is expected to decide whether the DACA program should be terminated.

"That is something that we're worried about, scared about, because if it's removed, people like myself whose two-year period ends in October, are possibly eligible for deportation if we can't re-apply for the program," Contreras said. "We've continued to show that immigrants like myself and other essential workers, health care workers, doctors, firefighters (and) Uber drivers, we rise to the occasion and we are on the front lines fighting along U.S. citizens helping the communities getting built back together."

The Supreme Court is expected to make the decision by the end of June.

This week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to temporarily suspend all immigration into the country amid the COVID-19 crisis.

President Trump said in a news conference that, it was to help reduce to spread of the virus and protect American workers. It would be an attack on to the travel restrictions the administration previously put in place.

Geoffrey Hoffman, a clinical professor at the University of Houston Law Center, said this executive order could have dire consequences for many people, including students who may have left the country during their break.

"People don't want to see this used for political reasons and as a pretext to promote a specific agenda. I think that's the issue," Hoffman said.

He said while Trump has the authority, it calls into question how presidents use their power.

"The United States code does provide some legal authority, but it's not carte blanche and it's not unlimited. So, the President's power will be tested," Hoffman said.

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