By sharing his DACA story on stage, Alex Alpharaoh hopes to change the immigration debate
Alex Alpharaoh is an actor, writer and spoken-word poet. He’s also a DACA recipient. With the program set to expire, Alpharaoh is sharing his story in "WET: A DACAmented Journey."
Alex Alpharaoh is an actor, writer and spoken-word poet. He’s also an Angeleno, a dad and a DACA recipient. Alpharaoh was born in Guatemala City and was brought to the U.S. by his mother when he was an infant.
DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, was created by President Obama in 2012. It gave young, undocumented immigrants like Alpharaoh temporary protection from deportation and two-year, renewable work permits.
But the future of DACA, and Alex’s future too, were called into question with the election of Donald Trump, who during his campaign promised to end DACA.
In September, the Trump Administration announced that DACA would be rescinded in six months and called on Congress to come up with a solution for the roughly 800,000 Dreamers who are in Alpharaoh's same circumstances.
In “WET: A DACAmented Journey,” playing now at Ensemble Studio Theatre/Los Angeles in Atwater Village, Alpharaoh recounts the complicated process of gaining protection under the DACA program, and then formally applying for U.S. citizenship.
In the second act of the play, he travels back to Guatemala for the first time so that he can establish an official point of entry into the United States. It’s a decision that came with enormous risk, because his re-entry wasn't guaranteed.
But Alpharaoh did return. While he was in Guatemala, he got the idea to tell his story on stage.
"I was in my mother's old room in my grandmother's house," Alpharaoh says. "And I told my God that if I made it back home, this was the story I was going to tell."
In 2012, President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. What did that mean to you at the time?In part of this play, you tell a harrowing story of your mom bringing you into the country. I believe she was 15 and you were how old? Can you relate that part of the story? How did the idea for this play come about? How do you decide that this is something you have to do even if there is a risk that comes with it? There are a couple of things that come out in the play. You have worked in social work, you have a degree in psychology, you've done hospice care. How do you go from those things to becoming an artist? Or is the artistry always involved in what you're doing? When you present this play, and people come up to you who might not be familiar with what it's like to be a Dreamer or in the DACA program, how do you hope they see the world differently after they listen to your story?