NEW BRITAIN - The case of Jose Diaz isnâ€™t as bad as others: his temporary legal status doesnâ€™t expire until 2019, so he has almost two years to hope Congress takes action to protect â€śDreamersâ€ť like himself from deportation.
Like roughly 800,000 people in the country, Diaz is considered a Dreamer - a term for people who came into the country illegally when they were children. Since he moved to the United States from Mexico when he was ten, Diaz has called America home.
Since 2012, the President Barack Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy, known as DACA, has protected Dreamers like Diaz from deportation and allowed them to work and attend school legally in the country.
The policy has allowed certain immigrants who came into the country illegally as minors to remain in the country by deferring their deportation in renewable, two-year periods. Immigrants could also receive work permits through DACA. Among other guidelines, only those who were in school, graduated high school or were veterans of the military were considered for the program. Convicted felons and those with â€śsignificantâ€ť misdemeanors were not considered for DACA.
The program was thrown into the limelight when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA would be ending under President Trumpâ€™s administration. Sessions said that DACA is being rescinded, and the Department of Homeland Security is already in the process of â€świnding downâ€ť the program.
Going forward, the DHS will not accept new applications for DACA, but applications already being processed will be finished and honored until their two-year expiration date. Permits will not begin to expire for six months.
In a Tweet, Trump said that itâ€™s up to Congress to act on some sort of replacement to DACA, and he would revisit the issue in six months if nothing has been done at the Congressional level.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, estimates that almost 800,000 undocumented immigrants have been approved for DACA since 2012 and more than 78,000 people are still pending approval. More than 10,000 people in Connecticut are estimated to be enrolled in DACA.
The decision to rescind DACA has left many residents in the state with uncertainty and anxiety about the legal status of themselves and their family members. Diaz, an undocumented student at Central Connecticut State University, is one of those people.
â€śNothing compares to watching the announcement live as its going on, and thinking about how itâ€™s going to affect you directly â€“ or your family and friends,â€ť Diaz said, remembering when he watched the announcement from Sessions.
Diaz said that while he and his peers expected some sort of an announcement on DACA, the time table laid out for the programâ€™s end is concerning.
â€śThe work permits are going to expire, then what?â€ť asked the student, who is also a Commuter Senator in CCSUâ€™s Student Government Association.
While Diaz will be enrolled in DACA until 2019, other young people he knows are not so lucky.
â€śI know other individuals whose work permits expire in April, so a month past the cutoff date of when theyâ€™ll stop renewing them,â€ť Diaz told The Press.
Diaz explained that many young people provide for their families because they have work permits through DACA.
â€śI know friends who are taking care of their families now,â€ť Diaz said. â€śItâ€™s mainly them who bring in the money to take care of their siblings and parents.â€ť
Diaz said that this situation has created anxiety among the undocumented population who consider the United States home, even if they arenâ€™t legally citizens.
â€śI think we were getting very used to the opportunity that we had â€“ being able to work and provide and help â€“ and now all of that is begin thrown to the trash and theyâ€™re not giving us an opportunity. Iâ€™m very heartbroken,â€ť Diaz said.
Diaz isnâ€™t giving up the fight, though. The CCSU senior spent Tuesday in Washington D.C. with other Dreamers and activists demonstrating their opposition to the Trump Administrationâ€™s decision. Diaz marched with Connecticut Students for a Dream, a youth-led organization fighting for the rights of undocumented youth and their families.
â€śWe were just there to continue to support and show that weâ€™re in this together and weâ€™re not losing hope,â€ť Diaz said.
Next week, C.H.A.N.G.E., a student activist group which Diaz is president of, will hold a rally in support of DACA in the circle outside of the CCSU Student Center. The rally will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14. In case of rain, the demonstration will be held inside the Student Center.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.