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Story - News

Sep 12, 2017 1:50 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

DACA Recipients Fear For Their Futures

DACA recipient,
Sep 13, 2017 9:08 PM

“I’m going to be an actor one day,” he says, his face hidden by dark sunglasses, his voice quickening with passion. “God put me here for two reasons: to entertain and to help people …

“I don’t care what kind of day they were having—I want to make them feel different than they did before,” he continues. “To feel is to be human, and I want to remind people what it means to be human.”

A theater major entering his sophomore year at Suffolk County Community College, the 20-year-old Westhampton Beach High School graduate is familiar with pretending to be someone else on stage. It’s a task that requires adjusting his persona to meet the demands and requirements of the character he has been assigned.

What he is not used to is hiding in the shadows to avoid possible deportation.

That’s because Mike—The Press has agreed to protect his identity at his request, due to the nature of his situation—is one of nearly 800,000 young immigrants in the country who has benefited under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a policy instituted in 2012 by President Barack Obama. He could face deportation if the policy is ultimately repealed by President Donald Trump and Congress is unable to agree on legislation to address the situation.

On September 5, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA would be rescinded, criticizing the policy, enacted by President Obama via executive order, as an overreach and blaming it for a glut of immigrants taking American jobs.

President Trump has promised to “revisit” the decision to repeal in six months and recently met with New York U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, seeming to soften his tone on the issue afterward. “For all those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about—no action,” President Trump tweeted last Thursday, September 7.

Still for Mike, and those in similar situations, the prospect of being banished to a country he’s too young to remember is more than worrying—it is downright terrifying.

Never Even Knew

Mike explained that he came to the United States with his mother and 22-year-old brother from their homeland of Costa Rica when he was 2 years old, and has been living in East Moriches ever since. The issue of documentation was never discussed—he had no idea, growing up, that he was anything but an American, despite being born in Costa Rica.

“Growing up in this country, I didn’t understand the concept of legal status,” he said on Monday. “Like everybody else, I didn’t see a difference between me and the person sitting next to me in class, even though he was born in Southampton Hospital and I was born in a hospital in Costa Rica.

“For the longest time, I didn’t even know that I didn’t have legal status,” he continued.

It wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school that Mike learned that he was an undocumented immigrant—when his mother learned about DACA and pushed for him to apply.

“The fear of being deported never crossed my mind,” he said. “And since I was in high school, I didn’t worry about working or driving. I thought about getting my next paper in.”

Enrolling in the program was complicated and labor intensive, and required securing paperwork from his school, driving all the way to Huntington to submit it, and getting his fingerprints and picture taken. Mike had to renew his authorization every 18 months; those who commit a crime, such as DWI or possessing illegal drugs, can be disqualified from the program.

In spite of the demands, the program gave Mike access that he would otherwise not have enjoyed. For example, DACA enabled him to find his current job at a grocery store in Bridgehampton, secure a driver’s license and even obtain a Social Security card so he could pay taxes.

The program provided him with the foundation upon which to build a life.

“I spent my life here—my best friends are here, I’ve fallen in and out of love here, I’ve had heartbreak and heart revival here. I’ve gone through abuse and new friendships, have had old friendships die and met new people. Everything that has ever happened to me has happened here,” he said.

“I don’t know Costa Rican culture. I don’t speak fluent Spanish. I don’t know the laws there. I don’t know how college works there. Everything in my life would be drastically different for me and 800,000 other young adults if [DACA] ended—and that’s a scary thought.”

Scared And Angry

A couple of months ago, Mike’s mother obtained her green card. His older brother had been born in the United States and thus was automatically granted citizenship. Having been in America for 18 of his 20 years, Mike is now the only member of his family at risk for deportation.

Mike is not the only DACA recipient—commonly referred to as “Dreamers”—facing an uncertain and potentially devastating future.

Sister Margaret Smyth, founder of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate in Riverhead, who also does work on the South Fork, said she has seen many similar reactions following Mr. Sessions’s announcement.

“They’re scared and angry—what you hear about it is true,” she said on Friday. “Many don’t speak Spanish anymore or know their countries of origin at all. Their friends, their base, is here. For many of them, it comes as a shock that they’re not American. They’re just waiting, wondering if they’ll have a life or not.”

She is currently in the planning stages of collaborating with other local advocacy groups, like the Long Island Immigrant Alliance, Make the Road New York, Catholic Charities and Centro Corazon de Maria, to push back against the repeal by way of petition and lobbying.

“They can’t apply to return legally for 10 years if they were here for 180 days without papers,” Sister Smyth said. “It would be dire for these kids. We intend to keep pressing and pushing.”

Some advocates feel that while DACA was the best option previously, now is the time to push for legislation that gives these young people a path to permanent residence and citizenship.

“One thing we want to emphasize is that we stand in support with the DACA recipients and want to support legislation that develops pathways to citizenship for them,” said Melissa Gibilaro, coordinator of Justice, Peace and Care for Our Common Home for the Sisters of Charity. Specifically, she said she hopes for a revival of the DREAM Act, legislation first introduced by Democratic Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Republican Utah U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch in 2001, but which has never been approved.

A Bleak Picture

Daniel Hartnett, former Sag Harbor School Board member and a current bilingual clinical social worker, agrees that permanent legislation is needed to protect DACA recipients from the whims of each passing administration.

“We need to pass the DREAM Act,” he said on Monday. “We need a path to permanent residency for these young people.

“I can’t paint a bleaker picture of what would happen with this repeal,” he added. “Ninety percent of DACA recipients are high school graduates. Many go on to get higher degrees, or get promoted at work because they are highly educated and highly motivated. They are the best among us.”

State officials have weighed in, sticking to party lines. Among those against the repeal are New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, all Democrats, and State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., a member of the Independence Party who represents the South Fork.

Democratic New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman went so far as to file a lawsuit in conjunction with 15 other state attorneys general, citing the Trump administration’s violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Republican U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, who sits on the other side of the aisle, said he supports President Trump’s plan to possibly revisit the policy, but warned that the government “should not reward or excuse criminal behavior.”

“It is great to pursue the American dream and to consider yourself a ‘dreamer’—and everyone in the United States legally should consider themselves ‘dreamers’—but you have to follow our laws. Period,” Mr. Zeldin said in a press release.

There is some reprieve, as DACA recipients have until Thursday, October 5, to renew their applications, buying them another two years without fear of deportation.

Mike has already taken this step.

“I just renewed mine a couple of months ago, so I’m good for the next two years,” he said. “Because even if [Trump] repeals it, he has to let our existing DACAs expire before he can do everything. So I’m ‘safe’ for the next two years.

“All I can really do is hope that Congress cares about us enough as people to give us an opportunity,” he added, pushing his glasses up his nose. “I’m worried.”

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With virtually no chance of deportation, and the likelihood of a pathway to residency if not citizenship...you've got to be kidding me. Stop your whining already. I'm a little afraid of my future too...it's called life! Labor intensive and one trip to Huntington every 18 months to submit paperwork and not having a criminal record.... poor babies.... The sense of entitlement is sickening.
By Mr. Snerdley (397), Alexandria on Sep 13, 17 8:14 AM
Perhaps many of them should have chosen to be born elswhere...

Guatemala's Disappeared

Thousands of people were disappeared during the civil war. Fault Lines meets families still searching for justice.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 18, 17 11:57 PM
Just one question...if all these "dreamers" get amnesty, a get out of jail free card....what crime do the rest of us working, voting and taxpaying citizens get to get away with? I mean if we are just going to ignore crime shouldn't we all get one shot, one free pass? It's only fair right and the lefty losers are all about fairness and equality, right?
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on Sep 13, 17 8:33 AM
All these advocacy groups do is "push back" instead of "pushing forward". These religious people should have been helping people instead of "enabling people" and giving them a false sense of security and entitlement. The religious don't understand the real world and really should stay out of this. I don't believe there is an bible reference to immigration laws.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Sep 13, 17 9:04 AM
1 member liked this comment
We are all dreamers! Why do people who are here legally paying taxes and doing the right thing have to accept cutting the line by people who are entitled?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 13, 17 9:24 AM
Because if we do not cater to them, we are racists.
By Moral Dolphin (50), Southampton on Sep 14, 17 11:26 AM
So I guess the 800,000 "Dreamers" are doing jobs Americans, particularly black Americans suffering from the highest rate of unemployment, won't do, right?

It's both amusing and sickening to see the left partner with the businesses clamoring for more illegal immigrants so they can drive down wages of legal residents, with the Catholic Church looking to fill it's pews and collection plates, and of course, with the Democrat party elites who've given up trying to sell their agenda to Americans ...more
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on Sep 13, 17 9:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
Moron eliminate you pretty much sum it up.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 13, 17 1:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
I had a dream also... Less taxes, paying for free heath care and over burdening our schools and hospitals.
I am a former union worker that fought for health care benefits [prescriptions, hospital, etc. I go to get a script and pay 20/25 dollars, dreamers get it FREE.
Go after the people that hire Illegals and fine them, would stop if the fine is enough. Sister margaret should help our poor and old Citizens...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Sep 13, 17 2:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Sep 13, 17 2:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
Amnesty is a reprieve for anyone who has broken a law. It has no place in this discussion, so is being incorrectly used.
To any Native American, the rest of us are all actually undocumented dreamers. How would it feel to be the targets of the resentment voiced on this thread, or to be in limbo until such time as the likes of DJT decide your fate? Or to be in fear of being thrown into territory foreign to you without your family members, or to be model US citizens up to and including serving ...more
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Sep 13, 17 2:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
June Bug has succinctly laid out what most leftists believe, but she, like most, are too cowardly to take it to it's logical conclusion. The USA is an illegitimate country, founded by people who "stole" it from Native Americans, and therefore does not have the right to control it's own borders. And if you don't agree that illegal aliens have the right to come and stay here, you are not a Christian and definitely a racist.
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on Sep 13, 17 3:10 PM
ILLEGALS ARE NOT ABLE TO SERVE IN THE MILITARY! Since when does an extreme leftist agree with any Christian beliefs?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Sep 13, 17 3:18 PM
Hear Ye, hear Ye, the lunatic left's poster child has chimed in. You may now return to working and paying taxes to give free stuff to her and her ilk.
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on Sep 13, 17 3:34 PM
How about you know what you are talking about before you spout your ignorance?
And if you knew anything about Christianity, you would know that Jesus' teachings were/are the antithesis of right wing-nuttery.
In 2014, the Defense Department began to allow a small subset of DACA recipients with specialized skills to enter the military, following in the tradition of thousands of noncitizens who have stood up and said they are willing to fight and die for our country. Today, ...more
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Sep 13, 17 4:07 PM
Another programmed loony tune. You, sir, are working for the biggest welfare queens in America, billionaires and corporations.
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Sep 13, 17 4:28 PM
June Bug, why won't you just say Americans are lazy and demand too much from employers, and therefore importing lower wage workers from the third world just makes business sense. After all, that's what your masters at Google, Facebook, and all the other Democrat supporting corporations have been lobbying for. I think most Christians understand you hate them, you hate their religion and certainly have nothing but contempt for it.
By NateNewtown (99), east on Sep 13, 17 4:53 PM
Missouri lawmaker censured over Trump assassination post

Associated Press SUMMER BALLENTINE and DAVID A. LIEB,Associated Press 3 minutes 41 seconds ago .

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's Republican-led Senate on Wednesday formally reprimanded a Democratic colleague for a Facebook post hoping for President Donald Trump's assassination, while the House took the less serious step of opening an ethics review of a Republican's ...more
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on Sep 13, 17 7:52 PM

Is that why the U.S. Army just revoked the promise of citizenship and broke contracts with hundreds of immigrant recruits? Could you come up more ignorant on the subject, or would you like to try harder?


Naturalization Through Military Service: Fact Sheet

Special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) authorize U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to expedite the application and naturalization process for ...more
Sep 19, 17 12:10 AM appended by Mr. Z
DACA recipients are "illegal", and last year alone over 300 entered into military service.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 19, 17 12:10 AM
There goes the liberal label of being a racist any time you disagree with them! Our premise for deporting illegal immigrants is not based on race, it is based on them breaking our immigration laws. It doesn't matter if an ILLEGAL is white, black, Mexican or European. The majority of illegals happen to be from Mexico, Central American, and South American countries because of our porous border with Mexico and the prior administration's refusal to enforce current laws. You liberals use the RACIST ...more
By Walt (292), Southampton on Sep 22, 17 8:59 AM
Figures this kid wants to be someone important in society like an actor.
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Sep 14, 17 6:46 AM
Figures all the haters come out on this topic. So happy to see I live in such a welcoming and forward-thinking place. What a gutter.
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Sep 14, 17 8:51 AM
4 members liked this comment
You can always leave....but I wouldn't recommend Canada...they already have enough snowflakes. Ciao.
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on Sep 14, 17 12:20 PM
I think it's time the left looks into the mirror - I believe you will find a lot more haters on your side: Madonna, Inauguration Day protestors, Berkley protestors, Antifa, etc, etc. I could go on, but need to get back to work, unlike the left no one is subsidizing my protests.
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on Sep 14, 17 1:00 PM
Once again we have to step aside and let the illegals have yet more free stuff.. Hundreds of thousands of people have paid and or paying off student debt. Why do they get a free education? And why cant we rally back and stop this nonsense? It fosters a gross sense of entitlement.
By Moral Dolphin (50), Southampton on Sep 14, 17 11:30 AM
Hey bigfresh, even your idol proves you wrong:
Donald J. Trump‏Verified account
5h5 hours ago

Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!.....
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Sep 14, 17 11:50 AM
Yes. They are ILLEGAL. No exceptions. I'm sure their countries of origin could use those talents. If they want back in then get on line.
By Walt (292), Southampton on Sep 22, 17 9:03 AM
There is no shortage of shit-holes in this world. Unfortunately the United States has about 100 million people not in the workforce and is 20 trillion dollars in debt. The United States needs to take care of its own before before taking in anymore huddled masses.
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Sep 14, 17 12:20 PM
When you parrot your idol, DJT, you can count on being complicit in promulgating a lie (the latest of which is that China's corporate tax rate is 15% when it is actually 25%).
Politifact proves his claim of the 100MM figure you cite to be false:
Our ruling

Trump said, "We have 93 million people out of work. They look for jobs, they give up, and all of a sudden, statistically, they're considered employed."

That figure, boosted by Trump’s description, represents ...more
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Sep 14, 17 1:39 PM
You're fact checking apples and oranges June B. Duck wrote: "not in the workforce". You're fact checking "out of work." Duck is correct, and evidence is supported here: Bureau of Labor Statistics - "Not in labor force" as of August 2017 - 94,785,000.
By Po Boy (5299), Water Mill on Sep 14, 17 2:15 PM
it's really a simple exercise in our constitutional requirements. You are illegal if you didn't come here according to our laws at the time. There are no exceptions. Everything else is emotion or counter-intelligence.

Do I feel sorry for the Dreamers (whatever that means?} Hell no. They are here illegally because of their illegal parents. What is it about the application of law that the left doesn't understand. By the way, most if not all of the so called "dreamers" entered the Armed ...more
By niblicksreach (14), Southampton on Sep 14, 17 9:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yeah. They should have chosen to be born somewhere else!!

The most violent cities in the world: Latin America dominates list with 41 countries in top 50

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Jeremy Bender, Amanda Macias, Business Insider
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 19, 17 12:17 AM
And the open border proponents are willing to let that violent culture in to our nation, just incredible .
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Sep 19, 17 7:45 AM
You do realize that the law that you love actually says that the penalty for people being in the US is just a fine, right?
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Sep 20, 17 9:28 AM
The law also places the illegal offender in the category of having very few options of going from being illegal to legal. It's called entering without inspection and is one of several grounds that render an individual inadmissible to the U.S. If deported which is always a possibility since they are after all - illegal, it means no reentry for a period determined by the deportation - 5, 10, 20 years - or permanently.
By Mr. Snerdley (397), Southampton on Sep 20, 17 9:48 AM
I concur with PW. Do 4 years in the armed forces-any one of 5- finish up and get both a DD214 and citizenship. Seems fair.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Sep 22, 17 8:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
Calling an illegal alien an "undocumented worker" is like calling drug dealers "unlicensed pharmacists"
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Sep 18, 17 7:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
Both were created by demand from the white middle class. Think about that for a while.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Sep 19, 17 10:22 AM
You didn't provide anything to think about. You care to elaborate and while you are at it, define what ''the white middle class'' is?
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Sep 19, 17 10:28 AM
Couldn't agree more - what an unfounded comment.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Sep 20, 17 8:05 AM
If I walk into a bank, rob it and walk out, am I not simply an undocumented account holder?
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Sep 21, 17 7:31 AM
1 member liked this comment
Making an undocumented withdrawal.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Sep 22, 17 8:13 PM
Making an undocumented withdrawal.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Sep 22, 17 8:13 PM