By Rachel Siford
The election of Donald Trump for President might throw a wrench into DREAMers plans on going to college.
The New York Immigration Coalition aims at boosting civic engagement to advocate for immigrants in New York.
“With a Trump win, we are already anticipating so much more setbacks,” Francis Madi, senior regional outreach specialist for the New York Immigration Coalition, said.
Madi added that in the past, some of the biggest arguments were that young undocumented students are going to take money from taxpayers, which is very problematic middle class families who are already struggling to pay rent and for school, don’t want to feel like their money is going to others who don’t pay taxes.
“But that’s not the case,” Madi said. “We try to increase the communication that it would actually increase benefits to the states. We would be able to create more jobs, the economy would improve. More people would have access to education.”
The New York State DREAM Act would cost people approximately 65 cents per year, according to Madi.
NYIC is going to try to identify communities’ fears and issues with immigrants and start grassroots campaigns to overturn them. Most of upstate New York, other than major cities, voted for Trump.
“Donald Trump is perfect example. He turned rage and fear into hate speech and gained all these followers,” Madi said.“That is problematic because we are trying to pass the DREAM Act and the state senators who represent upsate are going to use these arguments to make sure nothing is done for the DREAM Act.”
Many were expecting a Clinton presidency, similar to the Obama presidency, where a lot was able to get done for immigrants. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals law is one of those things, allowing undocumented people who were under the age of 16 and came to the US before 2007 a temporary work permit.
“We don’t know the type of president Trump is going to be,” Madi said. “We don’t know if he is going to follow up on the things he said about immigration. I’m scared for young people who use DACA. We don’t know what is going to happen to it.”
Trump said he was going to cut DACA funding and statuses, which would leave over 300,000 DACA recipients back in the shadows. He also said he was going to cut sanctuary cities, cities and towns that have special resources for immigrants. New York City is a sanctuary city.
“Our main focus right now is that there isn’t fear in the community and channel fear and rage into active steps,” Madi said.
Upcoming NYC Immigration March Hopes to Show Dangers of Trump’s Policies
On Sunday December 18th, , the New York Immigration Coalition will hold a rally in Manhattan to protest multiple policies that president-elect Donald Trump had touted during his campaign, particularly those policies that the coalition considers to be anti-immigrant. Coinciding with international migrants day, the event is co-sponsored by advocacy groups from across the state, and is meant to be a display of solidarity amongst the many immigrant communities in New York in the wake of Trump’s victory.
“The New York Immigration Coalition is sponsoring this march to stand up for immigrants, to make a statement that all New Yorkers stand with immigrant communities, particularly when we’ve heard a lot of vitriolic language coming from the president-elect,” Thanu Yakupitiyagi, Senior Communications Manager for NYIC, said. “He really threw immigrant communities under the bus and a lot of people in New York are really scared about what’s to come. So this is a way for all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status to show that we’re all united, and that we will not tolerate any anti-immigrant policies coming down the pipeline.”
Unlike earlier protests against Trump’s victory in New York City, which were largely disorganized and lacked a clear message, Sunday’s march will protest four specific issues which Trump had promised to enact after he enters the Oval Office next month. Two of these issues deal with policies that affect DREAMers directly, those children of undocumented immigrants who wish to attain a college education within the United States in spite of their status, and if enacted could mean deportation let alone the ability to attend university.
“Two of the major reasons we are marching is to demand that Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) stays in place and that it does not get taken away, and to condemn the mass deportation of Immigrants,” Yakupitiyagi continued. “President-elect Trump has said that he will deport 2 to 3 million immigrants, and we think this is a really irresponsible means of getting attention. A lot of immigrants come from extended families, and they are not these quote-unquote ‘criminals’ that he seems to think that they are. So we’re pushing for a more feasible means of dealing with our immigration system that doesn’t mean throwing 2-3 million people out of the country.”
Though not an official talking point put forth for the march, the coalition supports the New York State DREAM Act in the face of a defiant senate which likely will not pass the act. Even considering the impossible odds, NYIC still believes that the act is worth fighting for even at this juncture.
“We think that it’s really important to give educational opportunities to all immigrants in New York regardless of their status. We think that the DACA program has been an example of the real benefits of providing opportunities to young people.so that they don’t graduate college and live in a place where they can’t find work,” Yakupitiyagi explained. “I think particularly during a time where immigrants are being told that they don’t belong, something like the New York State Dream Act is especially important to ensure that everyone can finish their education.”
Time will tell if the aspirations of New York’s immigrant communities come to fruition, but one thing that is abundantly clear is they will not give up the fight no matter how badly the deck is stacked against them.