Trump Ends Dreamer Program & Shakes New Mexico Communities

by Staff Reporter / Sep 07, 2017 / comments
President Trump at a campaign rally. Courtesy image

Trump Ends Dreamer Program & Shakes New Mexico Communities

Staff Report

Tuesday morning, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced President Trump's decision to effectively end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA or “Dreamer”) program, fulfilling a campaign promise and creating widespread emotional and financial uncertainty across the country.

DACA, also known as the Dreamer Program is an Obama-era immigration policy that allows undocumented young people, including hundreds of thousands of workers and students who have lived in the US since childhood, to apply for a renewable two-year work permit, permission to attend school and college and protection from deportation.

Over 9,000 New Mexico youth, who moved to the United States while they were young, have formally filed with the DACA program and are now in fear that they may be subject to deportation. Nationwide the ending of DACA will affect over 800,000 registered DACA youth.

On a state basis New Mexico had adopted some of the DACA provisions statewide as far back as 2005, with the adoption of Senate Bill 582 which allowed undocumented youth who live in New Mexico to attend State colleges and universities, while paying in-state tuition. The result was thousands of undocumented youth enrolled in New Mexico colleges and the number of immigrants in New Mexico with a college degree increased by 42.7% between 2000 and 2011.

The possible impact of revoking DACA on New Mexico students caused an immediate reaction. Several of New Mexico’s College and University Presidents spoke out about the decision. Gary Caruthers, the former Republican Governor and current Chancellor of New Mexico State University released a statement condemning the repeal and pledging to support students and staff who are DACA recipients.

New Mexico State University stands with our students and employees who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program,” said Caruthers, adding “For many of our DACA students and employees, the U.S. is the only country they know. They’ve lived here as long as they can remember, and they are an important part of our culture and our future.”

Closer to home, Northern New Mexico College President Richard Bailey also weighed in, releasing a statement Wednesday that he is working with New Mexico’s Council for University Presidents to communicate to Congress and New Mexico’s Congressional delegation their solidarity with “ALL of New Mexico’s students.”

 

Northern New Mexico College is dedicated to remaining a welcoming and inclusive college for all students and employees, regardless of their immigration status,” Baily said in his statement, adding “Immigrants are vital and important members of our community who bring a myriad of gifts and strengths to our valley. To these brave community members, let me say that Northern New Mexico College stands with you. You are welcome here, now and always. You are our family. You are our community. You are Eagles.”

A spokesperson for Northern confirmed that there are DACA recipients enrolled at the Rio Arriba based college, but for privacy reasons declined to say how many are enrolled.

While Northern and the other State colleges and universities worked to protect the privacy of DACA recipients, other individuals stepped forward and chose to share how revoking DACA will affect them and their communities.  

"We will not be discouraged," said Edgar Agustin Marquez Ochoa, father of two US citizen children and a DACA recipient who worked in construction before getting a job at a local credit union in Santa Fe. "Because of DACA I was able to go back to school, get a GED and get a better paying job to provide for my family. We will continue to fight for a better life."

If thousands of workers and students who have DACA lose their jobs and are detained or deported, income loss will impact entire families, including thousands of U.S. citizen children,” said Marcela Díaz, Executive Director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, an immigrant advocacy organization. Diaz continued, “Public and private sector employers will suffer, especially in the education and health care industries. And reduced revenue from local and state taxes will hurt all New Mexicans.”

President Trump’s new policy ending DACA is scheduled to take six months to fully implement, but effective immediately the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will no longer accept new applications. Those whose DACA permits expire between now and March 5, 2018, can apply for a two-year renewal by Oct. 5.

During those six months, Congress could pass legislation overriding the President’s decision, and both Democrats and Republican Congressional leaders have voiced interest in doing so. Yet, one of the reasons President Obama implemented DACA through an Executive Order was because Congress had been unable or unwilling to pass any immigration reform. Capital Hill watchers say it is unclear if there is the political will or capacity to pass such reform now or before the six months expire.