Col­lege hosts panel dis­cus­sion on DACA

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By Jonathan Tressler jtressler@news-her­ald.com @JTfromtheNH on Twit­ter

Two Lake­land Com­mu­nity Col­lege stu­dents and an area im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney on Oct. 30 of­fered their in­sights and ex­pe­ri­ences and fielded ques­tions rel­a­tive to the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram.

The ex­change took place in Room A-2101 at the school’s main cam­pus in Kirt­land and was pre­sented by the Lake­land His­panic Pro­gram in an at­tempt to clar­ify some of the finer points of DACA, which was cre­ated by an ex­ec­u­tive or­der in 2012 un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and re­cently re­scinded via ex­ec­u­tive or­der un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

As ex­plained on the U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vice web­site: “On June 15, 2012, the

Sec­re­tary of Home­land Se­cu­rity an­nounced that cer­tain peo­ple who came to the United States as chil­dren and meet sev­eral guide­lines may re­quest con­sid­er­a­tion of de­ferred ac­tion for a pe­riod of two years, sub­ject to re­newal. They are also el­i­gi­ble for work au­tho­riza­tion. De­ferred ac­tion is a use of pros­e­cu­to­rial dis­cre­tion to de­fer re­moval ac­tion against an in­di­vid­ual for a cer­tain pe­riod of time. De­ferred ac­tion does not pro­vide law­ful sta­tus.”

In an Oct. 26 e-mail ex­change, Lake­land His­panic Pro­gram Co­or­di­na­tor Lis­sette López Piepen­burg ex­plained that the goal of the Oct. 30 dis­cus­sion was to clar­ify a num­ber of points about DACA and hope­fully shed some light on it via some stu­dents whose lives it af­fects di­rectly.

“As a His­panic Pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor, I have stu­dents who are DACA el­i­gi­ble, they are con­cerned about their sit­u­a­tion be­ing in limbo and at the mercy of the pol­i­cy­mak­ers,” she writes. “There are a lot of myths about DACA stu­dents and also there is lack of knowl­edge in the gen­eral pub­lic about DACA.”

She added that the is­sue ex­tends well be­yond the fam­i­lies and stu­dents it af­fects.

“Pro­fes­sors at Lake­land also have stu­dents who are DACA stu­dents and want to sup­port them,” she states. “There is op­por­tu­nity for the busi­ness of ed­u­ca­tion, which is ul­ti­mately our busi­ness at Lake­land. Also, we want to bring non­par­ti­san in­for­ma­tion to the staff, fac­ulty stu­dent body and the com­mu­nity.”

One such stu­dent is Pa­tri­cia Men­dez Es­camilla, who stud­ies crim­i­nal jus­tice at Lake­land. She de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion that led to her ar­rival in the United States, which in­cluded an abu­sive fa­ther, a mother who had few al­ter­na­tives to stay­ing with him and a long road

to her cur­rent sit­u­a­tion as a stu­dent.

Be­fore telling her story, she ex­plained her po­si­tion on Pres­i­dent Trump’s de­ci­sion to re­scind the pro­gram.

“I un­der­stand be­cause it was an ex­ec­u­tive or­der, not a de­ci­sion by the leg­is­la­ture,” she said, adding that be­ing sent back to Mex­ico would be a hard­ship. “If I had to go back to Mex­ico, I would have nowhere to live and my Span­ish is not bueno.”

She also asked those in at­ten­dance to keep an open mind when DACA and other im­mi­gra­tion is­sues arise.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” she said. “The only way we can un­der­stand each other is get­ting to know each other and not judg­ing them by the way they look.”

Like Es­camilla, Lake­land ac­count­ing stu­dent Juan Guitier­rez Perez ex­plained that the United States is his home.

“For me, ba­si­cally, Mex­ico is just the place where I was born,” he said, adding that, one day he was there and the next he and his fam­ily were in Chicago, from where they even­tu­ally moved to Painesville and he at­tended high school.

He said the dif­fer­ences be­tween his cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus and le­gal U.S. ci­ti­zens be­came ap­par­ent to

him when asked to par­tic­i­pate in some com­mu­nity out­reach ac­tiv­i­ties, which his lack of a So­cial Se­cu­rity card pre­vented him from join­ing in.

He said af­ter grad­u­a­tion, he looked at his op­tions, found Lake­land to be an af­ford­able op­tion for pur­su­ing his dream of start­ing his own busi­ness one day and DACA has en­abled him to do so there.

But it’s not an easy road, he said, de­scrib­ing hav­ing to work two jobs, and not be­ing el­i­gi­ble for stu­dent fi­nan­cial aid or gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits, de­spite hav­ing the re­lated de­duc­tions taken from each of his pay­checks.

Dur­ing the ques­tio­nand-an­swer por­tion of the dis­cus­sion, both Es­camilla, Perez and Kim Alabasi, an im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney with Dworken & Bern­stein, fielded ques­tions about DACA, how stu­dents may main­tain it be­yond its ex­pi­ra­tion and what they face with­out it.

Piepen­burg said she hoped those in at­ten­dance took away clar­i­fi­ca­tion about some of the myths sur­round­ing DACA and an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of some of the sit­u­a­tions some of its re­cip­i­ents face.

Ac­cord­ing to the col­lege, there are 23 Lake­land stu­dents who are DACA re­cip­i­ents.

JONATHAN TRESSLER — THE NEWS-HER­ALD

Juan Gu­tier­rez Perez, fore­ground, lis­tens as fel­low Lake­land Com­mu­nity Col­lege stu­dent Pa­tri­cia Men­dez Es­camilla re­sponds to a ques­tion from the au­di­ence Oct. 30 dur­ing a panel dis­cus­sion on DACA, seated next to Es­camilla, to her left, is im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney Kim Alabasi. Stand­ing at the podium is Greg Truhan, Lake­land crim­i­nal jus­tice pro­gram di­rec­tor and pro­fes­sor.

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