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CHRIS CUOMO (HOST): What is it like for you and your kids to watch what’s going on in Washington right now with the Dreamers?
ANGELICA VILLALOBOS (DACA RECIPIENT & ACTIVIST): I think it’s very hard to keep coming home after work and the school day for the girls and having to watch the news being very attentive to what’s going on around especially with the whole immigration deal that is going on that they still haven’t make up their mind.
CUOMO: What do you think’s going to happen? What are you afraid of?
VILLALOBOS: I’m afraid of going back to a country that I haven’t been in 21 years, that I don’t even think I remember. The fact that I will be coming to a country that I don’t know and whether I will be bringing my kids with me or not. I think that we all see the violence on the news, where I come from in Mexico, and it’s very difficult to even think about having to — start thinking about making a different life.
CUOMO: Do you even hesitate when you think about whether or not you consider yourself an American?
VILLALOBOS: No, I don’t.
CUOMO: And when you hear people talking about, well, Dreamers are illegals. They’re illegal aliens here. Is there any part of that phrase that connects to you in terms of how you see yourself?
VILLALOBOS: At first, before I started being an activist and getting involved in the movement, I think that part that always hurt me, in the sense that people need to get to know people like me to see that we’re nothing like — sometimes the media out there, our congressmen try to portray us as criminals. Now, these days, it’s more like — it’s still the same thing. A lot of people have very, very little knowledge on the subject and about immigration. Some of us are here because the U.S. has been in our countries where they have made laws there, very difficult as far as helping the government — or I guess you should say the wrong government. And there’s reasons why we had to migrate. So it’s been very difficult about hearing people still in 2018, having congressmen and people around us that doesn’t — that don’t get to talk to us and get to know us a little bit better.
CUOMO: You make an interesting point. One of the things that’s on the table right now is what they call, “amnesty.” And that’s a sticking point for the GOP, they don’t want an “amnesty” vote because it sounds too forgiving to members of their base. You say this isn’t about amnesty. Why not?
VILLALOBOS: It’s not. Because if we think about the amnesty back in the ’80s, what they’re proposing now these days is way different. Back in the day when the amnesty was approved, you get to become a legal permanent resident after five years and you did went through a background check then. They didn’t have as much technology as they do now. Now they go through fingerprints and all of that and they verify with the FBI before giving you a benefit. Ours will be limited. They’re trying to give us a pathway to citizenship for like 13 years and things like that. They’re requiring more things now. And because of the technology and everything, they’re really screening for people who have committed serious crimes that will make them ineligible for a benefit.