Don’t Lose Hope: UB reassures DACA students

Advocates, immigrants, and faith leaders at the Supreme Court in support of President Obama’s DAPA/DACA.

By Olivia Dudley

Staff Writer

 

On September 5, 2017, President Trump had Attorney General Jeff Sessions speak on his behalf, on the topic of ending the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This declaration sparked panic and fear into the hearts of many in the United States, many on our very own campus. People risk losing their status of being a legal immigrant if their DACA application did not make it to the U. S. Citizen and Immigration Service by September 5, 2017. Work permits can be renewed until October 5, 2017 if set to expire between now and March 5, 2018.

Photos by Br. Christian Seno, OFM

The day after President Trump’s controversial declaration, a meeting was held for UB students in the Business Center. This meeting was held by UB’s Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic, Elizabeth Keyes, and clinical teaching fellow Nickole Miller. The duo spoke passionately about protecting the rights of students under DACA; neither one provided false hope to the room packed with concerned students. This type of reassurance was greatly appreciated by the audience; no one wanted to be told “everything is going to be perfectly fine, don’t worry about it” because no one really knows exactly what a future without DACA holds for those who missed out on reapplication.

Keyes and Miller frequently referred to the website www.weareheretostay.org, which lists a variety of different methods and advice to both legal and illegal immigrants. One important point they highlighted was to know your constitutional rights, such as “Do not open the door if an immigration agent is knocking on the door,” “Do not answer any questions from immigration agents if they try to talk to you,” and “Do not sign anything without first speaking to a lawyer.” These reminders are listed on helpful red cards found on: www. ilrc.org/redcards. It is suggested that people undergoing the process of immigration keep these cards by their front doors in case they are questioned by the Immigrations Customs Enforcement (ICE).

According to Jens Manuel Krogstad of Pew Research Center, “Nearly 790,000 young unauthorized immigrants have received work permits and deportation relief through [DACA] since it was created five years ago by President Barack Obama.” If a DACA recipient has recently renewed their application, they may be eligible for other immigration options and services in order to get a work permit or green card.

On the topic of green cards, Keyes felt the need to insist that marrying an American citizen for the specific reason of obtaining a green card is one of the worst ideas; according to Ilona Bray of All Law, “Marriage fraud can expose both you and the U.S. citizen to criminal penalties (though the most severe penalties are reserved for the big-time criminals). It can also get you, the immigrant, an order of removal from the United States, which will come with a bar on reentering for some years into the future and a ruin of your credibility with the immigration officials.” Being an immigrant and marrying out of any reason other than love puts you, and whoever you are marrying, at risk.

Among the documents Keyes and Miller presented to the September 6th audience addressed contingency planning for Maryland families affected by immigration enforcement. It discussed the troubling fact that undocumented parents have been prompted to plan for potential separation due to immigration enforcement. Unfortunately, Maryland does not use Power of Attorney (POA) to its full extent; there is the MD Statutory Form POA, research conducted by Van Doan, Johnathan Greene, and Michael Stelmack on behalf of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc, which states “If the principal authorizes the agent to use the principal’s funds and assets for the benefit of minor children, the document should include such an authorization.”

President Trump has been in office for less than a year and he has already brought so much discomfort to so many of the people living in America. Happy families are being separated because of his policies and family outings are being disrupted, thanks to these ever strengthening policies that are being developed by our leaders. The best solutions offered are to call up our congress- men and senators, protest, and write letters. But I will be honest, it seems as if all our government is hearing is a faint whisper; we need to raise our voices and make more noise or we will never truly be heard.

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