Juan Paulos Palacios: Whatever happens, he’s grateful for time in USA

DACA status: Expires in February 2019  

Backstory: Juan Paulos Palacios is the younger brother of Juan Palacios. He’s been in America since age 4, when he crossed the Mexican border asleep in the back of a car. His mother is undocumented; he and his older brother are so-called Dreamers, but his two younger siblings were born in the U.S. and so have citizenship.

Achievements: He’s a senior at Grand Rapids City High.

Ambitions: He said he plans to enroll in college and perhaps pursue a career in engineering – if he is allowed to stay. And he said he will continue to fight for DACA.  “I prefer being the diplomat, going up to politicians and making sure they know who we are. I feel like this backlash (to undocumented immigrants) is because people don’t know our stories.”

Fears: He is trying to remain positive. He has marched in Grand Rapids and visited Democrat Gretchen Whitmer (who wants to be governor) in East Lansing. He pressed U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Grand Rapids, at a Aug. 31 town hall meeting on what he and others like him should do. Whatever happens, he said, he’s grateful for his time in the U.S. “You have freedom from government, where the individual is able to govern himself and to be able to determine his own destiny. I hold those values dearly. America has a lot of great values – freedom of religion, freedom of expression. It doesn’t matter where you come from if you share those values.”

Plan if DACA expires: Like his brother, he’s also unsure what he would do if sent back. If his mother is deported, he said, she “already got a power of attorney letter that leaves full custody of my (younger) brother and sister to my older brother.” If he and his older brother are sent back, he said his younger siblings (ages 10 and 12) would apply for dual citizenship they could freely go to Mexico to see their family. “These are the conversations that roughly 800,000 families have to discuss,” he said.

Reaction to possible deal: “I think this is a step in the right direction. I think the doors of opportunity are beginning to open once again. I'll be wary about what they pass, however.”

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