“My future is on the line…it’s heartbreaking and frustrating.”
By Francisco Monroy-Jimenez
On September 5th, 2017, the Trump administration announced an end to DACA, stating no new applications will be accepted and, for those currently enrolled, a “wind-down” will be taking place.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Its sole purpose is to protect “Dreamers,” children of immigrants, who have entered the United States illegally, from deportation. President Barack Obama announced the program on June 15th, 2012 and as of September 4th, 2017 there are roughly 700,000 individuals under the protection of DACA. Currently 42,000 reside in New York State alone.
Since the announcement, Federal District Courts and independent organizations nationwide are actively fighting lawmakers in congress and the Department of Homeland Security—which manages the program—to keep the system in place.
“I felt fear, anger, disappointment,” said Jocelyn Gonzalez, a Dreamer since 2014. Ms. Gonzalez is a graduate of Dutchess Community College, and is currently studying for her Bachelors Degree for TV Production and Radio at Brooklyn College. She is one of the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants, who have gone through the social, economical and political battle to call this nation a home.
DACA allows children of undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver’s license and seek lawful full time employment in the U.S. It also qualifies them to apply to colleges of their choosing, although they are unable to receive federal student aid. They must renew their permits every two years.
The Trump Administration’s approach to the program, “[has] made me self aware that, unfortunately, DACA is not a permanent solution,” Ms. Gonzalez continues, “ You need to have a back up plan to your back up plan.”
With the program’s imminent expiration, Ms. Gonzalez says, “My future is on the line…it’s heartbreaking, infuriating, and frustrating.”
Currently, due to federal court orders, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, under the Department of Homeland Security, has resumed accepting renewal applications for current enrollees, but cannot accept those requests of individuals that have not already been granted deferred action.
“DACA is an opportunity to live like any other normal American citizen. [It] opens up so many doors, providing the mold to become a functional member of society and have a future. DACA gives me hope,” says Ms. Gonzalez “ [but] if I can’t be successful here in the U.S., where else can I be successful?”
To contact the DCC Undocumented Student Group and other assistance, contact Steven Posada, the chair of the Dutchess Consortium for Undocumented Students at firstname.lastname@example.org or (845) 431-8017.