By Patrick Donachie
Undocumented New Yorkers, including many students who benefitted from President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order from 2012, told U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) they fear changes to immigration policy under President-elect Donald Trump.
Crowley also addressed recent allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency had determined that Russia had utilized computer hacking in an attempt to help Trump win the election, saying that there was “no question there’s concern of undue influence by a foreign power.”
At a meeting Monday at Make the Road New York’s headquarters in Jackson Heights, the newly elected chairman of the House Democratic Caucus stressed he and other elected officials would work to ensure Trump would not try to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
“I think we are all still struggling to comprehend the results of the election. There was anger, concern and fear. I share that, too, but we have to move forward,” Crowley said, his voice barely rising above a whisper due to a bout of laryngitis. “We need to go forward so we can deal with the issue of immigration in a holistic way. That hasn’t changed.”
The meeting included testimonials from several young students, including one named Martin who said he had benefitted from the 2012 executive order, which allowed certain individuals who came to the country as children to benefit from deferred action from the government on the basis of one’s citizenship status. Martin said he came to the United States from Mexico when he was 2 years old and feels “like a New Yorker.”
“When Donald Trump said we’re rapists and we came here to steal, that’s just not true,” he said to about 80 concerned community members during the session at 92-10 Roosevelt Ave. “DACA has changed my life. I’m working and studying, and helping my mom more than before.”
The DACA order was signed as a means for Obama to offer temporary protection to undocumented students and workers who were brought to the country as children. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, called the DREAM Act, would offer legislative protection to these individuals, but the legislation has never passed Congress. Trump might take steps to rescind Obama’s DACA order as soon as Jan. 20, 2017, Trump’s first day in office.
Crowley said details about Trump’s plans for a border wall and deportations were unclear and he could only speculate about future policies based on Trump’s words during the campaign.
“It’s not clear what will happen with DACA,” Crowley said. “All we know is what he’s said he will do and that has not been positive.”
Crowley pledged that he would be willing to protest, if need be, to protect and draw attention to the vulnerability of the nation’s so-called DREAMers, a name given for undocumented students who could be protected by DACA.
“When I get my voice back, you’ll hear it loud and strong,” he said.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona