Flor Torres worries that her family could be torn apart any day.
She came to the United States with her mom and siblings when she was young and eventually received her green card.
But her husband, Domingo Gonzalez — who also came to the United States for a better life and more opportunities — doesn’t have the same protection.
Family members brought him to Texas from Mexico when he was 14 and, although he was deported years ago, he came back and eventually was accepted in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which President Donald Trump rescinded earlier this month.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
Now the couple, expecting their third child, worry every day.
“I’m afraid the program is going to end and our family will be separated,” Gonzalez said Wednesday, as he, and other immigrants, talked with Fort Worth Catholic Diocese Bishop Michael Olson about his struggles. “... I believed we could have a better life.
“I believe hate is involved in all this.”
This week, Olson met with four local immigrant and refugee families at Fort Worth Catholic Charities to learn about their journeys here. He followed the footsteps of Pope Francis, who on Wednesday launched a two-year effort, known as “Share the Journey.”
The effort is geared to encourage Catholics and others to communicate with refugees and immigrants “in an effort to break down barriers of fear and suspicion and build bridges of understanding and hospitality,” according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Pope Francis encouraged other Catholic leaders to use “Share the Journey” as an opportunity to pray, reflect and help others. This week’s “Share the Journey” effort will be followed by a week of “Prayer and Action: Love your neighbor” during the week of Oct. 7-13.
Olson offered up a prayer, asking God to be with refugees and immigrants.
“Even today your people journey — immigrants and refugees, pilgrims and nomads — searching for hope, searching for opportunity, searching for peace, searching for You.”
‘Not just a card’
Gonzalez and Torres talked about starting their own business, trying “to be better every day for our children,” he said.
They pay taxes, but he receives no benefits because he is not a legal citizen. And he’s frustrated because he thought he was protected by the DACA program.
Then the president rescinded the program, which would end protection for Gonzalez and others in the DACA program in March unless Congress takes action.
Some DACA recipients can apply a two-year extension, but only if they meet an Oct. 5 deadline. A federal judge had asked the Trump Administration to extend the deadline, but on Thursday that request was declined.
Earlier this week, a “conservative Dream Act” was introduced in Congress with the goal of creating a path toward citizenship for more than 2 million young undocumented immigrants. This path requires immigrants to undergo multiple rounds of vetting and earn their ability to stay here, rather than receive blanket amnesty.
Gonzalez just wants a system that would allow him to quit worrying about being taken away from his family.
“It’s not just a card,” Gonzalez said. “There are lives, families” at stake.
‘Not easy to start a new life’
Ru Hta Dun, a Kachin ethnic refugee, faced different struggles leaving Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
A mother of two, Dun knew more than a decade ago that she needed to leave the country and create a better life for her family.
After her husband died from malaria, she fled Myanmar, where she and many others in minority groups suffered.
When she left in 2005 she was only able to take her daughter. Her son was too young and unable to travel, so Dun left him in safety with her sister.
“Refugees are forced to leave behind everything they had,” Dun said. “It is not easy to start a new life in a new country.”
Years of travel and struggling to find work led her to Fort Worth in 2009, where she eventually became a citizen and found a job helping other refugees with Catholic Charities of Fort Worth.
Her daughter is now in college; she finally bought her first house.
Her success isn’t all sweet. Her son won’t leave Myanmar because he feels he is with his real family.
‘No other choice’
Hussain Al Mftool talked about how he and his family had to leave Iraq because they weren’t safe, since he worked with the U.S. military.
Worried for his family — who could have been hurt or killed by bombs — they received special Immigration Visas to move to America and arrived here five months ago.
Now he feels his family is safe, but life is different.
He’s so glad his children are receiving a good education in English and believes in their future.
“Here, if you are good, ... (you have) a good life,” he said. “We are glad here.”
Amani Stephane Sebaziga also has struggled with his move from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he was born.
Even though generations of his family were part of the Banyamulenge tribe in Congo, they were called Rwandese and rejected by their country, and nearly forced to go to Rwanda.
“We wanted a place where you can be safe,” he said.
Sebaziga and his wife ultimately applied for a visa here and were granted asylum in 2005.
Life is good now, said Sebaziga, who also works at Catholic Charities.
He said he knows that “life as a refugee, immigrant, is not easy.”
“But (you do it) because there’s no other choice.”