Tomas Evangelista got a call from Nancy Pelosi’s office early Wednesday morning.
"It was a staff member who asked me, ‘Can we use your story?” the 28-year-old DACA recipient from Auburn said. “They said the leader is going to have a long speech on the house floor.”
The aide told Evangelista to tune in to Pelosi’s 8-hour-long speech later that day in support of Dreamers. When he did, he heard his story.
“She mentioned my name, mentioned my high school I was from, and mentioned my job and my story,” he said. “I thought it was very powerful not only for me to hear a congresswoman telling my story on the floor of the United States house of representatives, but other Dreamers, too, were able to hear their own story there.”
Evangelista was brought to Santa Barbara, Calif. from Mexico by his mother when he was 2 years old. After his mother died of cancer, he moved to Auburn at 6 years old to live with his grandparents.
He is currently a DACA recipient and co-founder of the group California Dreamers, which advocates for protections for young people, like himself, who were brought to the United States illegally as children.
In October, Evangelista met with Pelosi during a trip to Washington, D.C. He now hopes that other lawmakers will hear his story and feel compelled to take action before the March 5th deadline to protect Dreamers.
“We must keep pressuring Congress, pressuring our friends to call them to do something,” he said. “Congress won’t move unless we act.”
While he remains hopeful, he knows anything can happen.
“A lot of people have told me this: ‘Doesn’t seem like you’re concerned,” he replied when asked about his confident demeanor, "But I think I have to show strength for other Dreamers, so I really have to hide my fear.”
When asked if he would be willing to compromise the border wall in exchange for protections for Dreamers, he said no.
"For myself, yes," he explained. "But when you look at how the border wall will impact America, no, because I think 25 billion dollars is a waste of money."
He said he believes the are smarter ways to protect the border.
"I think the American taxpayer is worth more than a border wall," he said.