President Trump’s decision last week to rescind DACA or Deferred Action for the children of undocumented immigrants has made a local stage drama incredibly timely. The play, called “Deferred Action,” premiered last year in Dallas from Cara Mia Theatre and the Dallas Theater Center. Now, it’s going on tour – to Denton, Houston and Los Angeles.
In a TV talk show scene in the stage play ‘Deferred Action, ’ a young immigration activist named Javier is on the panel with a Republican representative and a female Democrat. Javier’s parents brought him to the US as a child – he’s a so-called DREAMer, protected from being deported under DACA. But he wants real change, not the limited status he gets from DACA. So that pits Javier against both the Republican and Democrat.
Republican representative: Deferred Action is just a written excuse to turn a blind eye to people breaking the law.
Javier: I agree with him.
Democratic representative: But you can go to work, go to college without fear of deportation.
Javier: Sure – until they elect someone else and they throw it out. The time for Deferred Action is over. It’s time for real legislation.
Sounds like a play that was taken straight from last week’s headlines. President Trump is killing DACA and he told Congress it’s their job to come up with a solution for undocumented immigrants. But playwrights David Lozano and Lee Trull actually wrote that scene three years ago. Cara Mia Theatre and the Dallas Theater Center premiered ‘Deferred Action’ last year. Lozano is artistic director of Cara Mia.
“The play still resonates,” he says, “because we’re still looking at DREAMers living with Deferred Action. And deferred action essentially means deferred deportation.”
This week, Lozano starts a regional tour of ‘Deferred Action.’ It opens at SMU, then travels to Denton, Houston and Los Angeles. Lozano says the tour has been a lot for his small, 21-year-old company to pull off.
“So far,” he says, “this is the largest project Cara Mia has ever undertaken.”
“Deferred Action” may get attention because it is so timely. But it’s timely mostly because it deals with one of Washington’s most persistent political logjams.
“It talks about the political games that our Congressional representatives play with human lives – as we’ve seen with nobody wanting to take action on an immigration reform bill for so many years,” says Jose Manuel Santoyo. Santoyo is Cara Mia’s head of marketing. He’s 25 years old, has lived in the U.S. for 16 years and has graduated from SMU.
DACA never granted Santoyo U.S. citizenship, but as he notes, “DACA gave us a work permit, it gave us a driver’s license and it gave us a Social Security number. And that allowed me to start a career in not only public service and politics but also now the arts.”
But all of that could just go away. DACA was set up as a temporary measure. It requires people to reapply for legal status every two years. But over the next six months, the Trump administration will wind down those renewals. After that, all the DREAMers could be deported.
“We always knew from the beginning that this program wasn’t permanent. But we never expected it to end the way that it did, through this administration,” says Santoyo.