While the Trump administration was announcing an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program Tuesday, the New York Immigration Coalition held a rally in front of Republican New York Congressman John Faso’s Kingston office decrying the move. About 100 people turned out, many waving signs, calling on Faso to more strongly back up his stated support for addressing DACA legislatively.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said former President Obama’s memorandum creating what Trump calls the unlawful DACA program will be rescinded. And 2017 Kingston High School graduate Beker Lozano says he feels betrayed. The 18-year-old from Mexico says he has been in the U.S. since September 2001.
“I don’t anything over there in Mexico. If I go over there right now, I’m not going to be able to tell you what store or what street it is,” Lozano says. “Over here, I know Kingston like the palm of my hand.”
Lozano says he has an appointment September 12 in the Bronx for what he hopes is securing such documentation as employment authorization.
“My application, I already put it in already so it’s in process, I’m guessing,” says Lozano. “They just said come in for the appointment. So the application is done.”
Charlotte Gossett Navarro is with the New York Immigration Coalition. She says some 15 organizations and faith groups showed up for the protest. They and other DACA supporters filled the sidewalk on Broadway to defend young immigrants who benefit from the program. Gossett Navarro called on Congressman Faso of the 19th District to raise his voice.
“So the community is here today to demand that Congressman Faso be a fighter and a champion for the community,” Gossett Navarro says. “We are aware that he has come out in support of a permanent congressional solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and we cheer that, but what we need is a champion, not just words. We need him to step up and be fierce, as fierce as the community here today.”
She explains what she means by being fierce.
“So that means we need him in the public denouncing the decision of Trump, that means we need him to be outspoken and loud in his party, in Congress fighting for this issue,” says Gossett Navarro.
Faso, who was not in his Kingston office at the time, released a statement saying that he supports Congress addressing DACA legislatively and doing so within the next six months. He expressed this via a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan last week and co-sponsored two bills that maintain DACA.
Meanwhile, Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach calls the DACA decision unfair.
“From a personal standpoint, I live in a community that will be greatly affected by this because there are a lot of people that have come here from Central and South America who brought their children here,” Auerbach says. “And I look at the faces of each one of those kids who have grown up with my kids and see that this has cast a huge cloud over their life.”
The DACA program helps undocumented immigrants, known as “dreamers,” who came to the U.S. at a young age. Victor Cueva, a Peruvian immigrant who grew up undocumented in Kingston, attended the rally on the first day of his new job – as an attorney with the Worker Justice Center of New York in Kingston.
“And I’m out here to support the community, the DACA kids. I know what it’s like to be in that position,” Cueva says. “It’s just, as you can see today, there’s a lot of support, and we’re going to fight for you and fight for all the other immigrants.”
Beth Murphy of Saugerties attended. She reads her husband Barry Kerr’s t-shirt.
“Roses are red, tacos are enjoyable, don’t blame a Mexican just because you’re unemployable.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, at an event honoring the retirement of Assemblyman Herman "Denny" Farrell Jr., addressed Trump’s policy reversal.
“President Trump is talking about DACA and rescinding DACA which is just feeding the beast of bigotry red meat,” Cuomo says. “That’s all this is about.”
Via email, Cuomo also urged New Yorkers to sign a petition telling Congress to pass the DREAM Act, and protect DREAMers from deportation. Rallies were also held in other locations including Albany on Tuesday.