Dreamers frustrated with immigration portion of State of the Union speech

MIAMI (WSVN) - President Donald Trump laid out a path to citizenship for thousands of Dreamers nationwide in his State of the Union speech, but some said they are still frustrated.

South Florida is home to thousands of Dreamers, and some who watched the State of the Union address said they felt disheartened by what they heard.

In much of his first State of the Union address, Trump talked about immigration and reform. “Americans are dreamers too,” Trump said in his speech. “It’s time to begin moving toward a merit-based immigration system.”

Melissa Taveras with Florida Immigrant Coalition is on the front lines of immigration in South Florida. “Why would you want to disturb something that’s working?” she said. “This new immigration plan that he proposes would reduce legal immigration by about 20 to 50 percent. It would separate families.”

Republican representative Carlos Curbelo brought a guest to Tuesday’s event who is a South Florida Dreamer himself. “The 800,000 people that have DACA right now, we’ve gone through background checks, we’re contributing to society, we’re paying taxes, we’re in school, we’re working at different jobs,” said South Florida Dreamer Adrian Escarate.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s guest, Nicholas Perez, said he felt the president was trying to link criminal group MS-13 with DACA recipients.

“Tonight, I am calling on Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13 and other criminal gangs to break into our country,” Trump said in his speech.

It’s a statement that did not sit well with Perez. “It’s the way that he just compares pretty much the DACA program and the Dreamers to the gang members of MS-13,” he said.

The four-pillar plan includes a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants, securing the border and making changes to the visa lottery system and family based immigration rules, but many people said they’re questioning his intentions.

“He’s talking about the Dreamers almost as if he’s doing them a favor,” Taveras said, “and the fact is nearly 90 percent of the country is asking for a permanent solution for our Dreamers.”

Trump concluded his immigration portion of his speech with a message of unity. “Tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion and creed.”

Congress has a week to come to a consensus on DACA.

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