Mayor Bill de Blasio and a host of electeds, advocates and clergy gathered at City Hall yesterday to rally against President Trump’s announcement to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Trump, under a looming deadline, ordered the end of a five-year-old executive action protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation. The president declared a March 25, 2018 deadline of which Congress must come up with a replacement. However, no future DACA applications will be accepted. The decision to roll back the Obama-era policy is slated to affect nearly 30,000 New York City residents currently protected under the executive action.
“The actions today, by President Trump, undermine a bond that has developed in this country between hundreds of thousands of people and all the rest of us,” said de Blasio as he pledged to stand with DACA residents who could be at risk for deportation in six months should Congress not act to implement a new immigration measure.
“I have a message for President Trump. Don’t mess with our fellow New Yorkers,” the mayor added.
De Blasio instructed all DACA city workers to continue to go to work and assured New York City DACA residents will not be asked their immigration status. The mayor also pledged to protect DACA students, many of which are beginning class this week.
“All Dreamers will have full access to our schools, to our hospitals, to all New York City services,” declared the mayor. De Blasio also confirmed the New York Police Department (NYPD) will not serve as a deportation agency.
Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña and NYPD Chief of Parole Terrie Monahan were on deck affirming the mayor’s comments.
“Regarding all the actions taken today, are able to rest assured that absolutely nothing has changed with the way the NYPD operates. We abide by city law. We never, ever ask someone’s immigration status,” said Monahan.
The current federal immigration policy, DACA, allows certain illegal immigrants who have entered the country as minors to receive work permits and a renewable two-year period of delayed action for deportation.
In 2012, New York State implemented its own version of the federal immigration plan, Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act –– the New York DREAM Act. The law provided certain benefits to undocumented immigrants that satisfy certain criteria. In New York, one of the benefits afforded undocumented immigrants’ the ability to secure financial aid to attend college.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, originally from Puerto Rico, urged Congress and New York State to revise the DREAM Act in support of the rights of DACA recipients.
The speaker also condemned Trump’s decision today calling it a “ploy from a cruel, uncaring White House and president that is hell-bent on undermining our nation and the American dream.” Mark-Viverito also attacked the White House’s assertion that the need for immigration reform will shore up jobs for American citizens.
“Instead of rewarding these hardworking Americans, the president and the attorney general [Sessions] are pitting communities against each other with blatant lies. This is not about jobs, this is about racism,” said Mark-Viverito. The speaker announced that the city council would pass legislation later this week to expand the Mayor’s Office of Immigration Affairs.
While the mayor pledged to use every legal avenue to defend the rights of DREAMers, the city’s public defender services will unlikely be able to sustain the workload of 30,000 cases. Public Advocate and attorney Letitia ‘Tish’ James called on city attorneys to come to the aid of New York City DREAMers.
“We need all attorneys to step up and to assist us, because today we are all dreamers and our dream is the American dream and it will not die,” said James.
Brooklyn City Council Members Jumaane Williams, Brad Lander and Carlos Menchaca were also in attendance pledging their support of DACA recipients.
The president later announced, in a tweet Tuesday night, that he would revisit the issue should Congress be unable to legalize DACA.