BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday that former President Barack Obama’s executive order on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) would be phased out over the course of six months, allowing time for Congress to decide whether to permanently make DACA law.
DACA was put in place in 2012 to allow certain immigrants who entered the United States as minors to receive deferred action from deportation. It also provides young undocumented immigrants with a work permit and allows them to renew their application after two years.
Through DACA, approximately 800,000 young immigrants were reprieved from deportation and granted the ability to work legally in the United States.
Queens residents and elected officials blasted Sessions’ announcement regarding the phasing out of DACA.
“Without a doubt, this action is both heartless and senseless,” said U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights).
“It is now time for Republicans in Congress to stand up. At a minimum, Congress must act to reverse this harmful and revolting policy change. Bicameral legislation has been introduced that would protect this population—and there is no reason for Republicans to delay bringing it to the House and Senate floors for a vote. I look forward to seeing whether my colleagues will stand up for what is right.”
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Elmhurst), the lead sponsor of New York State’s Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, said that President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out DACA would have economic ramifications, citing a study by the Center for American Progress that found that DACA beneficiaries are projected to contribute $460.3 billion to the United States during the next decade.
“President Trump is punishing young people who came to the United States by no fault of their own,” said Peralta. “Let’s not forget that Dreamers have already been properly vetted through the system and have met the rigorous requirements placed on them, not only to initially qualify, but to renew the program as well.”
Peralta said that now is the time for the DREAM Act, which allows for undocumented immigrant college students to enroll for tuition assistance, to be passed.
Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights), who was a lead sponsor of the DREAM Act in the Assembly, called Trump’s decision an attack on the nation’s values.
“I grieve with my community, with the young DREAMers in my district, throughout Queens and New York, throughout the 50 states, who will overwhelmingly suffer by this action,” said Moya.
Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) said that immigrant youths will be forced to worry about deportation and the possibility of being taken away from their families, while U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said that Trump’s actions do not improve the nation’s safety.
“President Trump’s action today is an affront to who we are as Americans,” Gillibrand said. “He is needlessly targeting children, who know no other country as home than America. This does not make our communities safer or our economy stronger. In fact, it does just the opposite. Congress must lead where the president won’t and pass the DREAM Act. America does not merely tolerate immigration—we thrive on it, and we are better than needlessly targeting hardworking young adults to score crass partisan points.”
Make the Road New York (MRNY), which provides services for more than 20,000 immigrants, planned a trip to Washington D.C. on Tuesday to protest Trump’s DACA decision.
“DACA has changed my life drastically, including being able to obtain a New York State ID and being able to work and graduate college,” said Yatziri Tovar, a Queens resident and member of MRNY. “If DACA is taken away, I don’t know what I will do. I’m working two jobs to support my family. But Trump has decided that neither me nor my family matter to him and that he’d rather play games with our lives. But as a daughter of immigrants who has overcome obstacles throughout my life, I won’t allow this administration to attack my community, and use us as pawns for its hateful agenda. We are here to stay.”
Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director of MRNY, said that the group will call on members of congress to ensure that DACA is passed into law.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.