On Tuesday, Sept. 5, in a cowardly and erroneous move by the current administration, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions publicly announced the rescission of the Obama-era administrative relief program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The six month phase-out of the program, which protected over 800,000 immigrant youth from deportation across the nation, sparked a high level of uncertainty amidst an already chaotic time for all immigrant families in the United States.
Reactions against this decision did not take long to come out. In the case of New Mexico’s members of Congress, U.S. Rep. Michelle Luján Grisham called it a “cruel” decision that made it “obvious that (Trump) does not value the pursuit of the American Dream.” U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján echoed Grisham’s statement by declaring he will oppose any attempts by the Trump administration to “rip these young people away from the country in which they have grown up and that they love and respect.”
Following suit, U.S. Sen. Martin Henrich stated, the United States “should not be a nation that tears families apart,” also reaffirming he “will not stand for policies that are contrary to our fundamental American ideals and values.” Lastly, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall reiterated Trump’s wrongful decision by stating it only puts the lives and future of nearly 7,000 New Mexicans in “jeopardy and already is causing fear among families and throughout communities.”
Although the near future looks unclear – putting the fate of millions of immigrant families in the hands of Congress – one thing is clear for me: WE ARE MORE THAN A WORK PERMIT and the program does not define us! DACA granted nearly one million young immigrants a new sense of security and stability; and we will fight like hell to make sure more people have access to safety and security under the Trump regime.
With this same goal in mind, over 1,500 students – from Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Anthony – participated in a statewide student walkout for immigrant justice to decry DACA’s rescission. Most importantly nearly 1,000 people – ranging from immigrant youth, families and community allies – came together at Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza to heal, recharge and strengthen our commitment to protect all immigrant families in New Mexico.
Since then, we’ve been fighting our toughest battle yet; reclaiming our safety, our dignity and, most importantly, our humanity. But as the old saying goes: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” This new development opens up a door to now work on a clean legislative piece that would grant protection to more of our families.
But make no mistake, our families will not be used as bargaining chips to compromise our safety for funding for “the wall,” more enforcement in the border region or increased bed capacity for the inhumane immigrant detention centers.
Today, we echo the call by Rep. Grisham for her “Republican colleagues to bring a clean DREAM Act to the floor for a vote without delay.”
Immigrant youth and families are tired of being used as political pawns and will not give in to throwing some of our community under the bus. Because an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us!
Immigrant youth fought and won DACA after years of pressure and community organizing – it was not handed down by the former administration. Building on the amazing support that has been built since before the reign of Trump, and knowing the resilience found in my community, I am certain we will win once again!
Gabriela Hernandez is the Southwest Regional Organizer for United We Dream.