I bumped into an immigration client at the gym on Saturday and he had an “I need to talk with you look on his face.”
Michael* is from Peru and he is in the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program.
DACA was created in June of 2012 by executive order by President Barack Obama. DACA allows undocumented immigrants, like Michael, who entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday to receive a work permit and an exemption from deportation.
Michael said “I’m scared. What do you think Donald Trump is going to do?” President-elect Trump’s victory has left thousands of undocumented immigrants, including the 750-thousand young people in the DACA program facing an uncertain future.
Because DACA was created by executive order and was not a law passed by Congress and signed by the President, the Trump Administration could decide to end it with a stroke of the new President’s pen. It could mean U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) could stop renewal applications and could stop accepting new DACA applications. It could mean people, like Michael, would lose employment authorization cards and eventually state driver licenses. It could also mean that people like Michael, who came to the U.S. when he was 10-years old and has never had trouble with the law could be deported from the U.S.
Michaels’ mother is a U.S. Citizen and he said, “She’s a wreck. She’s afraid there’s going to be a knock on the door and I’ll be dragged away in handcuffs. If she’s not praying and lighting candles, she’s watching the news and crying.”
Michael said, “There must be something you can do.” Unfortunately, I said “not really.” I have known Michael for several years. I know him to be an honest hardworking young man who cares a great deal about his family. If he’s not taking a college class, he works two jobs. He is, in my opinion, the type of person we want living in our country.
I offered to call Michaels’ mother and told him to keep an eye on the news and to call me is he had questions or concerns. I also told him not to fall for any immigration solutions that are too good to be true because there are plenty of scammers preying on vulnerable people looking for an immigration solution.
U.S. Immigration is federal law and it requires a federal solution. There’s news today Sen. Dick Durbin, (D-Ill.), is collaborating with Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), to introduce a bill that could protect young immigrants in the DACA program. Durbin, a longtime advocate for immigration reform took to the Senate floor to confirm that he’s been speaking with Graham regarding introducing legislation that would provide for a “temporary stay” so that young unauthorized immigrants could be shielded from any action President-elect Trump might take.
In addition to calling Michaels’ mother to assure her I am trying to protect her son, I will also be contacting all of the members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to encourage them to continue to support and protect DACA.
*The name has been changed to protect the person’s confidentiality.