Lehman Students Denounce Lack of DACA Deal

By Shaiann Frazier

Protestors stand with DACA. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Nearly two weeks after the Trump administration’s legislative deadline passed, the future of over 700,000 immigrants remains in limbo, and Lehman students continue to demand their renewed protection under legislation known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The White House had designated March 5 as the deadline to reach a bipartisan deal on the bill, but two federal judges, in California and New York, issued injuctions on January 10 and February 13 respectively that block this deadline. While this gives those covered by DACA more time to apply for extensions, it also leaves them worried about their future in America. 

Tapanga Perry, 18, a freshmen and nursing major at Lehman, said, “I feel that people’s DACA shouldn’t be taken away because everybody has the right to live the American dream. And it wouldn’t be right to send people back.”

DACA was an executive order created by former President Barack Obama back in 2012. It allowed undocumented immigrants to legally reside in the US for two years without the fear of deportation. Under this order, immigrants received background checks and were given two-year renewable permits that allowed them to receive an education, secure legal jobs, and obtain valid driver licenses. 

To be protected under DACA, immigrants had to be between 15 and 31 years old when submitting their request, and to have been residing here since before June 15, 2007 as mandated by the Department of Homeland Security. This past September, the Trump administration rescinded DACA, and gave Congress six months to negotiate a deal that would keep those under DACA free from deportation and protect border security. As the March 5 deadline came and went, neither Republicans nor Democrats managed to come up with a passable bill.

Both parties proposed bills that ensure the pathway to citizenship for most immigrants, but Trump rejected them. A bill needs at least 60 affirmative votes in the Senate to pass, as well as an affirmative majority vote in the House before it reaches the president’s desk, where he may still veto it.

“The fact that a deal hasn’t been reached saddens me because I feel that [DACA] is an opportunity for people to be able to advance in their lives and get a better education.” 

- Frances Latalladi, 42, a Lehman senior and journalism major

As the law now stands, those under DACA will continue to reside in the U.S. until their work permits have expired. New applicants who applied before September 5, along with renewal applicants that were processed before October 5, can remain in the U.S. Now that the issue will be taken up in the court system, those who couldn’t make the deadline have a temporary reprieve, but must still live in fear for their long-term future.

George Abraham, 22, a junior and business administration major at Lehman said, “It’s depressing, these are families you’re talking about who are being treated like they have no values. There’s no remorse.”

According to a recent report from the Department of Homeland Security, 983 undocumented immigrants protected under DACA could lose their protected status every day, and nearly 30,000 people could be deported each month for the next two years if Congress fails to reach a deal.

The most vulnerable group under DACA are the “dreamers,” a term used to refer to people covered under the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2001, which offered legal status to undocumented immigrants in return for attending college or joining the military.

According to a report from the Migration Policy Institute in 2014, over 241,000 DACA immigrants were enrolled in college, and nearly 57,000 of them had already earned a bachelor’s degree. 

Frances Latalladi, 42, a Lehman senior and journalism major, stressed how vital this opportunity is for many Dreamers. “The fact that a deal hasn’t been reached saddens me,” she said, “because I feel that [DACA] is an opportunity for people to be able to advance in their lives and get a better education.”

Bryan Diaz, 21, a computer science major at Lehman, agreed. “I feel like there’s many [dreamers] that need an opportunity in life,” he said. “And by getting deported they are being deprived of it.”

Michael Anti, 22, a computer science major at Lehman who was born in Ghana, also questioned the logic of the Trump administration. “I have a friend who’s under DACA and he’s a nice person,” he said. “And I don’t see why they would want to deport somebody like him, he’s contributing to society, he has a goal, and he wants to do something good.”