Legal advocacy groups based in New York are preparing to fight Donald Trump if he follows through on a pre-election promise to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but young people enrolled on the program are preparing for the worst.
“We always had to explain to people that this was temporary benefit, not a status, and could be taken away. I think at that time we were more hopeful that it wouldn’t become a reality but current events have made us rethink that,” said Danny Alicea, fellow at the City Bar Justice Center in New York.
Alicea was speaking at NYU Law School’s Immigrant Rights Teach-In on November 28.
The DACA program was introduced in 2012 by President Obama to defer deportations for children of illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors before they were 16, on the condition they behave and stay in school.
However thousands of children, young people and students in New York who were granted temporary protection under the Obama administration could soon face deportation, after Trump said it was a number one priority to axe the program.
To apply for DACA, young people are required to submit an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with documentation proving they were brought to the United States before they were 16, as well as identifying information such as a home address. The information was collected by the USCIS confidentially, under condition that it would not be turned over to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ICE) the enforcement arm of the US immigration system.
“We are strategizing how to fight back and we will fight back,”- Stephanie Park, MinKwon Center for Community Action
Young immigrants are fearful about what will happen to the information under the new administration.
“We are talking to USCIS to find out what they’re going to do with all the files of information they have about us. We are strategizing how to fight back and we will fight back,” said Stephanie Park, staff attorney at the MinKwon Center for Community Action based in New York, speaking at the same presentation.
Even if the information remains confidential, Trump could very well follow through on his promise to shut the program down, although it is unclear whether he will retroactively cancel all DACAs and nullify accompanying two-year work permits, or allow existing DACAs to expire.
“Not too long ago, the President Elect said it was a top priority to rescind this program and since then, we have not heard him talk so definitely about this being his top priority but I think the answer is, nobody knows for sure. We can only prepare,” Alicea added.
Young people in New York with DACAs should start preparing now, by booking any urgent medical checks ups before their Medicaid expires, and ensuring they can support themselves financially if, come January, they are no longer legally allowed to work.
Photo via The Upstander