By Naeisha Rose
President Trump’s decision to abandon the protections for 800,000 young people under DACA has been felt keenly in Queens.
Queens College Dreamer Guadalupe Muller, a Sociology and Urban Studies major who wants to finish obtaining her degrees in the fall of 2018 is one of the recipients of DACA.
Under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, immigrant children brought to the United States by their parents illegally without documents were allowed to attend school and receive work permits for employment so long as they had no criminal history and came here before they were 16, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Those with permits will simply be phased out of the program once their papers expire, if Trump gets his way.
“DACA allowed me to go to school, receive a scholarship that pays my tuition and I receive paid internships,” Muller said. “I was able to travel throughout the U.S. without being afraid of being detained by ICE.”
Despite not being able to leave the country, Muller was able to go on school trips to Pennsylvania and upstate New York.
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) refuses to turn her back on people like Muller.
“Today, my thoughts are with the thousands of young people across this country who have had their dreams for a better future dashed,” Meng said. “Many earned degrees from American high schools and universities, and some even served in our military. These are exactly the type of individuals America should embrace, not turn away.”
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) agreed with Meng.
“Once again, President Trump has demonstrated a complete disregard for immigrants, families, young people and all those who risked everything to come to the United States in search of a better life and higher education,” Mark-Viverito said. “The New York City Council will continue to use every resource in our power to stand up for Dreamers.”
Through Queens College, which is located at 65-30 Kissena Blvd. in Flushing, Muller was able to obtain an internship with the New York State Youth Council Leadership, an organization that provides undocumented youths with resources in criminal justice, reproductive rights and immigration rights.
Together with members of NYSYLC Muller protested outside of Trump Tower Tuesday as she waited to learn the fate of DACA. After Trump’s decision to end the program nine DACA protesters were arrested, but being surrounded by other young Latinos gave her hope.
“It was very emotional,” Muller said. “It was nice to be there because there was a sense of support and community.”
Queens College was proud to support its DACA students. About 3 percent of its student body consists of undocumented students, according to Amy Hsin, a sociology professor at the school.
“Today, I unequivocally reaffirm my support for Queens College and all CUNY students who find themselves at risk of deportation from a country that has benefited greatly from their academic achievements, multiple talents, and hard work,” Queens College President Félix V. Matos said. “Every day it is my privilege to witness the commitment of young women and men to building successful futures through education.”
“They have my assurance that my voice will be among those helping to persuade Congress to uphold support for the DACA community,” said Matos.
Offering help to people affected by the dropping of DACA is Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans).
“My office will continue to offer free legal services and inform residents of the opportunities the city provides so they can receive an IDNYC card, free legal and financial services, along with a host of other programs which affirms our status as a sanctuary city,” Miller said. “Just because this policy might be eliminated does not mean we will negate our responsibility to these working families.”
Make the Road New York, an organization that fights for Latino issues, will continue to work on behalf of DACA recipients.
“Today the president escalated his war on our community, and he is being met with the fiercest possible resistance,” said Javier H. Valdes, the co-executive director of Make the Road. “Moreover, we will firmly stand up to members of Congress and demand that they rein in a president who continues to value white supremacist voices over voices of reason and compassion.”
“I was hoping it wouldn’t be that decision,” Muller said. “But I’m kind of hopeful that something better might happen because a lot of pressure is going to be put on Congress.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose