DACA Forum Endorses View – ‘DREAMers Are Us’

Congresswoman Nita Lowey hosts DACA, DREAM Act roundtable discussion with DREAMers, advocates, legal experts at Pace Law School.

On Sept. 5, the Trump Administration announced its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects some 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the United States as children, from deportation.

An estimated 41,970 people in New York are DACA recipients.

The DREAM Act (H.R. 3440) would protect these young immigrants, known as DREAMers, from deportation and give them a path to citizenship. Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Harrison) is a cosponsor of the legislation.

A roundtable discussion last week at Pace Law School in White Plains hosted by Congresswoman Lowey discussed DACA and the DREAM Act.

Joining the congresswoman were Marvin Krislov, President of Pace University; Lisdy Contreras-Giron, a Pace Pleasantville undergraduate and DREAMer; Carola Otero Bracco, Executive Director of Neighbors Link; Karin Anderson Ponzer, Director of Neighbors Link Community Law Practice; Andrea Alarcon, a DACA recipient and Manager of Operations and Community Development at Neighbors Link; Jessica Young, Immigration Law Attorney at Westchester Hispanic Coalition; Vanessa Merton, Professor of Law and Faculty Supervisor at the Immigration Justice Clinic and the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University; Tom McDonnell, Professor of Law at the Immigration Justice Clinic at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University; Miguel Sanchez Robles, Assistant Clinic Administrator at the Immigration Justice Clinic at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University; and Alyson Spindell, Director of Community Engagement at the Office of New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

All members of the panel supported passage of the DREAMer bill.

“With me choosing to come out, it’s because I am proud,” said Contreras-Giron, who announced her status as a DREAMer to the campus community during a “Campus Conversation on DACA” at the university on Sept. 12. “I’m proud of the decision that my parents made. I am proud of the jobs they hold to sustain my family, and I’m proud of who I am. Being a ‘DREAMer’ as we are identified, is not just being a ‘DREAMer.’ We are your neighbors, we are peers, we are your classmates, we are your children’s babysitters, your nurses. We are individuals who surround you in different aspects of you each and every day. For me it’s being my parents sacrifices, it’s being my parents struggle, a reflection of my parents’ work ethic, being my struggles, my sacrifices, my work ethic and my successes. I am the resilience that I’ve built through the hardships and adversity. Everything that I am is because of that. I would never be ashamed to say I am undocumented, and I’m currently a DACA recipient because it has made me who I am. I am proud of who I am.”

In a strong statement supporting the DREAMer Act, Congresswoman Lowey said, “President Trump’s callous decision to end DACA is immoral and wrong. DREAMers like Lisdy and Andrea who were brought to the United States as children, are Americans in the eyes of their communities. They grow up alongside of us, pledge allegiance to our flag, have graduated from school with us or served in the military, pay billions in taxes, and contribute to our economic growth and competitiveness. DREAMers are us. The DREAM Act, to give DREAMers a path to citizenship, would pass if brought to the House floor, and Republican leadership should stop blocking it.”

“I firmly believe in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as a path to education for immigrants,” said Krislov. “The program has served Pace, our community, and our country well. During my time at Pace I have already met impressive and highly motivated students, making amazing contributions to the community, who have benefited from DACA. Let’s continue to protect these students and let them focus on achieving their dreams. I hope that Congress and the President can find a way forward that is inclusive and beneficial for all.”

“Neighbors Link is not completely surprised by the decision of the Department of Justice at the request of President Trump to cease and desist the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival,” said Otero Bracco. “Data shows that those who have applied for DACA know no other country as their home but the United States due to their age when they arrived. Data also shows that DACA recipients are either working or in school – either way contributing to their communities and the economy. If these are not the values and activities that we believe in as a country, then what are? We are not surprised, but we are no less heartbroken with this irrational, illogical and indefensible decision by this administration. We are also even more determined to support and defend the rights of the almost 800,000 individuals who proudly call themselves DACAmented Americans.”

Following the Administration’s announcement on DACA, 15 states, including New York, filed a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s decision to end the program.

Additionally, Pace University President Krislov issued a statement in support of DACA on behalf of the university.