Im­mi­grants: We are more than a work per­mit

Santa Fe New Mexican - - OPINIONS -

Just nine days after Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump granted a par­don to Ari­zona’s most in­fa­mous and anti-im­mi­grant sher­iff, Joe Ar­paio, Trump de­cided to dou­ble down by di­rectly at­tack­ing im­mi­grant youth na­tion­wide.

On Sept. 5, in a cow­ardly and er­ro­neous move by the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion, U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions pub­licly an­nounced the rescis­sion of the Oba­maera ad­min­is­tra­tive re­lief pro­gram known as De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals.

The six-month phase-out of the pro­gram, which pro­tected more than 800,000 im­mi­grant youth from de­por­ta­tion across the na­tion, has sparked a high level of un­cer­tainty amid an al­ready chaotic time for all im­mi­grant fam­i­lies in the U.S. Re­ac­tions against this de­ci­sion did not take long to come out. In the case of New Mex­ico’s mem­bers of Congress, U.S. Rep. Michelle Lu­jan Gr­isham called it a “cruel” de­ci­sion that made it “ob­vi­ous that he [Don­ald Trump] does not value the pur­suit of the Amer­i­can Dream.” U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lu­ján echoed Gr­isham’s state­ment by declar­ing he will op­pose any at­tempts by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to “rip th­ese young people away from the coun­try in which they have grown up and that they love and re­spect.”

Fol­low­ing suit, U.S. Sen. Martin Hein­rich said, “We [the U.S.] should not be a na­tion that tears fam­i­lies apart. Hein­rich also reaf­firmed that he “will not stand for poli­cies that are con­trary to our fun­da­men­tal Amer­i­can ideals and val­ues.” Lastly, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall re­it­er­ated Trump’s wrong­ful de­ci­sion by stat­ing it only puts the lives and fu­tures of nearly 7,000 New Mex­i­cans in “jeop­ardy and al­ready is caus­ing fear among fam­i­lies and through­out com­mu­ni­ties.”

Al­though the near fu­ture looks un­clear — putting the fate of mil­lions of im­mi­grant fam­i­lies in the hands of Congress — one thing is clear for me: We are more than a work per­mit. The pro­gram does not de­fine us! DACA has granted nearly 1 mil­lion young im­mi­grants a new sense of se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity, and we will fight like hell to make sure more people have ac­cess to safety and se­cu­rity un­der the Trump regime.

With this same goal in mind, more than 1,500 stu­dents around New Mex­ico — from Las Ve­gas, Santa Fe, Al­bu­querque, Las Cruces and An­thony — par­tic­i­pated in a statewide stu­dent walk­out for im­mi­grant jus­tice to de­cry DACA’s rescis­sion. Then, nearly 1,000 people — rang­ing from im­mi­grant youth, fam­i­lies and com­mu­nity al­lies — came to­gether at Al­bu­querque’s Civic Plaza to heal, recharge and strengthen our com­mit­ment to pro­tect all im­mi­grant fam­i­lies in New Mex­ico.

The next six months will be our tough­est bat­tle yet; re­claim­ing our safety, our dig­nity and most im­por­tantly, our hu­man­ity. But as the old say­ing goes: “When life gives you lemons, make lemon­ade.” This new devel­op­ment opens up a door to work on a clean leg­isla­tive piece that would grant pro­tec­tion to more of our fam­i­lies. But make no mis­take, our fam­i­lies will not be used as bar­gain­ing chips to com­pro­mise our safety for fund­ing for Trump’s bor­der wall, more en­force­ment in the bor­der re­gion or in­creased bed ca­pac­ity for the in­hu­mane im­mi­grant de­ten­tion cen­ters.

Im­mi­grant youth and fam­i­lies are tired of be­ing used as po­lit­i­cal pawns and will not give in to throw­ing some of our com­mu­nity un­der the bus. An at­tack on one of us is an at­tack on all of us. Im­mi­grant youth fought and won DACA after years of pres­sure and com­mu­nity or­ga­niz­ing — it was not handed down by the for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Build­ing on the amaz­ing sup­port that has been built since be­fore the ter­mi­na­tion of DACA, and know­ing the re­silience found in my com­mu­nity, I am cer­tain we will win once again.

Gabriela Her­nan­dez is the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the New Mex­ico Dream Team & South­west Re­gional Or­ga­nizer for United We Dream.

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