MASSIVE PROTESTS AS PRESIDENT TRUMP DUMPS DACA Some 800,000 ‘Dreamers,’ Including Filipinos, Face Deportation

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US PRESIDENT Donald Trump gets loud claps as he addresses the US Congress. Now, loud protests are all over following his reactivation of the DACA program affecting some 800,000 ‘Dreamers.’

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA and ALFREDO G. GABOT

SAN FRANCISCO/CHICAGO (JGLi/PhilAmPress) — US President Donald Trump has revoked the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program set by his predecessor former President Barack Obama effectively putting into possible deportation some 800,000 DACA recipients throughout the country, including some 10,000 Filipinos.

Trump’s action which was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week sparking public outrage, protests in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and elsewhere in the nation, legal challenges and Congress initiatives to counter the US President’s decision.

Trump’s decision came as he prepared to attend attend the U.S.-ASEAN summit and the East Asia summit in the Philippines and visit China in November and attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit in Vietnam. Aside from the  Filipinos, Chinese and Vietnamese in US are also endangered of deportation due to the junking of the DACA program.

At least 15 states and the District of Columbia and several organizations are leading the legal challenge to Trump’s order claiming that Trump’s decision violated the due process right of the DACA recipient by failing to protect and safeguard crucial information that DACA recipients provided when they applied for the benefit.

Jess O’Connell, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, in a statement to the Philippines Today editor in chief, stressed that ending DACA is the “most outrageous, cruel act of Donald Trump’s presidency.”

“For nearly 800,000 young immigrants, DACA gives them the peace of mind to live, go to school, and work in the only country they have called home. Threatening the livelihoods of DREAMers isn’t just a political issue — it’s a moral one. DREAMers were brought here as children, whether to escape danger in other countries or in search of the American dream, and have lived in the United States for the majority of their lives, O’Connell said.

“DREAMers contribute to our economy, their communities, and pay taxes. They are our friends and neighbors. They are teachers, first responders, and service members. And it’s no surprise that nearly 90% of Americans support putting legal protections for them in place,” he added.

“We must speak out against Trump’s discriminatory decision and demand Congress protect DREAMers through legislation like the DREAM Act,” he urged.

Antonio Arizaga and Terry Valen of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) assailed in a statement Trump’s decision ending the  DACA program.

“We stand with the Dreamers, Muslim immigrants, and all working class and people of color communities in the U.S. building resistance to the Trump-Pence regime. IMA-USA will continue to fight alongside Dreamers and other migrant youth, workers, and families to build the grassroots voices of migrants and refugees in struggle against imperialism, fascism, and all forms of reaction,” Arizaga and Valen said.

In Manila, Malacanang immediately expressed concern on the affected Filipinos as Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter  Cayetano assured the DFA will assist those who may end up getting deported.

“While we hope for the best in the form of a legislative solution, those affected should likewise prepare for the worst,” Cayetano said.

“In any event, we are ready to welcome and assist our kababayans (countrymen) in whatever way we can if they are returned to the Philippines,” Cayetano added.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella assured that the DFA is already communicating with the members of the Filipino community in the US.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs, through our embassy and consular officials and staff, is closely coordinating with the members of the Filipino community in the United States,” Abella said during the Palace press briefing last week.

“We will provide assistance through the use of the Assistance to Nationals Fund and the Legal Assistance Fund to the Filipinos who may end up getting deported as a result of Washington’s decision,” Abella added.

With America aging, where will it get its pool of workers and military recruits if it attempts to deport close to one million youth on the heels of the revocation of the DACA program?

The question was posed by leaders of massive rallies in San Francisco and other areas in California, in Chicago, Illinois and elsewhere in the nation, who told Mr. Trump that deporting some 800,000 DACA recipients does not make sense because these youth know only one country all their lives — America.

DACA recipients will be strangers in the native lands of their parents, who brought them to America when they were under 16 years old, they said.

Nerissa Allegritti, a Filipino American leader of AnakBayan-Chicago, said, “Itong ginawa ni President Trump ay hindi talaga maganda kasi (What President Trump had done is not really good because) they (DACA recipients) are very patriotic Filipino Americans.

Meron pa nga tayo, ‘yong (We even have Pulitzer prize-winning) journalist (Jose Antonio) Vargas, na nakatangap ng award (who won an award).

Itong 800,000 talagang (These 800,000 are really) very hard working and they can contribute a lot to this country and to our community. It’s a wrong move kasi kung titingnan natin, sila ang asset ng future ng bansang ito (if you look at it, they are the assets of this country) and at the same time America will lose a supply of workers, educators and military people. Let’s pray and do action at the same time.”

Ms. Allegritti said these DACA youth came to the U.S. most of them were still very young. “Karamihan niyan maliit pa, ang iba niyan ay one month old, two months old and even if they are nine years old, ang kanila lang talagang nakikita na bayan ay itong Amerika. (Most of these DACA beneficiaries came to the U.S. while they were still young. Some of them were aged one-month-old, two months old and even if they were nine years old, the only country that they have ever known is America.)

Tapos ngayon, later na lang nila nalaman ang status nila noong nag-college sila kasi dito, libre ang schooling from public elementary to high school, walang paper works. Pag-college na, kailangan mag-declare sila ng Social Security Number, doon lang nila nalalaman out-of-status pala sila. Itong DACA ginawa ni President Obama para may immediate na aksyon sa pagtulong sa mga kabataan. (Now, they later learned that they were out of status when they enrolled in college because here, there is free public and high school education and there were no paper works. When they enrolled in college, they have to declare their Social Security Number. That was the only time that they came to know that they were out of status.)

She said President Obama had to approve the DACA executive order when the Senate and the House of Representatives failed to pass a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill.

Ms. Allegriti said because about 8,000 Filipino DACA recipients will be affected out of the 800,000 nationwide, “We are doing our best. Hopefully, next week, we will be able to visit the Philippine Consulate to find out what help it can do to the DACA youth.”

Another Filipino American activist, Maya Arcilla, secretary general of AnakBayan, said she joined the “march after President Trump decided to cancel DACA. I am here because 800,000 immigrants will be affected by this cancellation and one in four Filipinos are undocumented.
“Some 6,000 Filipinos leave the Philippines everyday in search of better life and in search of better occupation. I am here because the crisis by the U.S. government will also cause crisis in the Philippines by occupying the country, occupying our homeland with military bases by having unjust and unequal treaties that result in poverty that forces the people to leave for abroad,” she said.

“I am here because no immigrant, no youth, no student, no caregiver should be afraid to lead their lives in this country. And they should have basic rights and their basic rights should be protected. My fear is that the Trump administration will start deporting DACA (youth). And those deportation will continue,” Arcilla added.

The Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), a nonprofit national organization based in Washington, D.C. dedicated to protecting immigrant rights,  denounced President Trump’s termination of the DACA program, calling it “un-American” for betraying the cherished principles and ideals of this great nation.

Rev. Arnedo S. Valera, MHC Executive Director,  called on the U.S. Congress to permanently resolve the DACA issue by swiftly passing the bipartisan 2017 DREAM Act. The legislation was introduced last July 20 in the 115th U.S. Congress by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, and Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat from Illinois.

Under Trump’s executive action, current DACA beneficiaries will not be affected until March 5, 2018. Congress has six months to pass legislation that would protect close to 800,000 DACA recipients.

“Now that it is up to Congress to pass legislation, we must be united in our action to advocate for the passage of a Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will include a provision on Dreamers,” Valera stressed.

Valera added: “President Trump’s action will also lead to the breaking up of families, which is counter to America’s values and basic sense of human decency. Our immigration policy should be about economic opportunities, family unity, equality, immigrant justice and humanity. America was founded over 200 years ago as a Nation of Immigrants. We are, and will always be a Nation of Immigrants.

“We should legally challenge this rescission before the Courts of Law as a grave abuse of discretion considering that DACA has been declared constitutional by our US Supreme Court and in its implementation has created legal rights to DACA recipients.

Tthe National Federation of Filipino American Associations thru its Executive Director Jason Tengco has issued the following statement:

“Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump Administration is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but with a six-month delay.

“Created under the Obama Administration in 2012, DACA has allowed nearly 5,000 young Filipinos – along with 800,000 other individuals – to receive work permits and to be protected from deportation.

“The security and opportunity afforded to DACA recipients is a true representation of the American Dream,” said NaFFAA National Chairman Brendan Flores. “Eliminating DACA protections unjustly rips away the ladder of opportunity for hard-working people, divides families, and pushes immigrant communities back into the shadows.”

Meanwhile, DACA recipients need not fear immediate deportation as the program has two years to expire naturally, immigrant advocates clarified.

“If you currently have an approved case and work permit, that protection and permit are valid until they expire unless revoked and terminated immediately,” explained Allison Davenport, staff attorney of Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), during a press call last week.

 What is true is that US immigration is no longer accepting applications for DACA as of (as of September 6). But for those who had applications on file by September 5, the day of President Donald Trump’s announcement, “their cases will be processed normally,” explained Davenport.      

Current DACA recipients whose permits will expire in the next six months (between until March 5, 2018) will still be allowed to renew their DACA. They are the only ones who can renew their DACA status; their renewal, however, must be received by the deadline of October 5, so they must reapply early enough before October 5.

Any cases that expire as of March 6, 2018 or later, would no longer be eligible for renewal. Holders of an unexpired grant of DACA will continue to be protected and could still work legally with their work permits until expiration. They are protected from deportation too unless they lose DACA status for some valid reasons like criminal or any illegal activity that would warrant revocation.

Groups and at least 15 state prepared legal challenges to Trump’s termination of the DACA program.

“We are arguing that the Trump decision to end DACA violates federal law for the following reasons. First, when the government reverses a long-established policy, it must show that it has good reasons for doing so as in DACA. This is true especially when there has been reliance on a longstanding and well-established policy such as DACA,” said Ignacia Rodriguez, immigration policy advocate of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC).

“The administration’s failure to show good reason for reversing DACA violated the administrative procedures act (APA), a federal statute that forbids arbitrary and capricious acts of the federal government and abrupt changes of direction without adequate justification,” Rodriguez maintained.

Rodriguez  argued that the decision to terminate DACA violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin. (jglariosa@hotmail.com or alfred.gabot@gmail.com)

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