MCALLEN, Texas -- A young immigrant living in South Texas is speaking out after he was stripped of his protections under the DACA program. He believes the Border Patrol’s decision was unwarranted.
“I didn’t want to be another immigrant, another 'illegal,'” Jose Aguilar said.
For the past few weeks, a dark cloud has been hanging over Aguilar’s head.
“It puts me down since I really can’t do nothing about it. I can’t work. So, it’s hard,” he said.
As a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipient, a recent encounter with the U.S. Border Patrol at the Falfurrias, Texas checkpoint changed the course of his life, he says.
“About three or four agents rushed to my car, but since I had nothing to worry about, I thought it was just something that had to do with DACA recipients,” Aguilar recalled.
The 23-year-old Mexican native knew DACA recipients were being detained at these inspection stations as part of a recent immigration crack-down. The sudden move took him by storm.
“That’s when they started taking my information: my name, date of birth, my finger prints, asking about my criminal record,” Aguilar described. “I told them I had none and they did go ahead and find out that I had nothing on my record.”
However he did have an immigration violation that agents caught: a report from 2009 that stated that Aguilar and his mother crossed the border illegally after visiting his ailing grandmother in Mexico.
“When I found out about it, it broke my heart,” Aguilar said.
Border Patrol agents caught and later released them. Aguilar was 14 at the time. DACA did not exist yet.
It would be the second time they crossed the border illegally. The first time was in 2001, when they first moved to the U.S. and Aguilar was brought to the country at age 7.
It wasn’t until 2014 that he was granted DACA protections. He said that he reported the 2009 incident in his application and was even able to renew DACA in 2016 under a USCIS provision describing “brief, casual, and innocent” travel outside the U.S.
Nevertheless, Border Patrol detained Aguilar for two weeks, issuing a notice to appear in front of a judge; a notice that he said he never received. After failing to show up to the hearing, his DACA privileges were revoked.
“I’m basically stuck right now,” he added.
He was eventually released on bond with help from his immigration lawyer.
The KENS 5 Border Team has made repeated attempts to interview Border Patrol agents, but they refuse to comment on specific cases.
Aguilar says that he wants to be on the right side of the immigration issue. That is why he signed up for DACA, he said. He would like to return to work in the oil fields with his stepfather and end his family’s worries.
“I basically grew up here. I know it’s not my country of birth, but to me it is,” Aguilar said.
For now Aguilar is riding out the storm. His fate now lies in the hands of an immigration judge and in Congress, which is still working out a deal with President Trump on this issue.
© 2017 KENS-TV