DACA Recipients, Supporters Gather in City

Event in response to state attorneys general asking Trump to end program for young undocumented immigrants.

NEW HAVEN >> A student group representing undocumented young adults that wants to defend their legal ability to remain in this country with certainty held a community event Wednesday night to spread that message.

The group’s action was in response to a group of attorneys general from ten states who asked President Donald Trump to rescind the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrival Program — or DACA — established by former President Barack Obama.

The event, held by Connecticut Students for a Dream, invited young undocumented immigrants and families to learn about how they might help defend DACA.

“What’s most concerning is we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Camila Bortolleto, a DACA recipient and avocate of the organization. “It’s a good time to speak out, not a time to go back in the shadows.” The program has allowed Bortolleto and many other young undocumented immigrants to get a work permit, driver’s license, Social Security number and — most importantly — the opportunity to live without fear of deportation.

 

Attendees included DACA recipients, family members and supporters of undocumented immigrants. People expressed feeling fear, uncertainty and anger about the future of DACA — but some felt more hopeful.

One woman described feeling like she was in survival mode because she doesn’t know what will happen. Many don’t want to share their names and stories publicly out of fear of deportation themselves, or of family members being taken away.

 

“Everyone is a little scared,” said Yeni Cortes. She received DACA when she was first eligible four years ago at age 15. She said it has changed her life. “Before DACA my family had a fear. Now we can live with certainty and safety.”

With current enforcement of existing immigration law, deportations have increased, as has scrutiny of the move by the Trump administration. In one of several recent local cases to make national headlines, Nury Chavarria of Norwalk, was set to be deported after years ago ignoring voluntary deportation orders, but sought asylum in a New Haven church and has since been granted an emergency stay.

Marco Antonio Reyes Alvarez of Meriden is currently receiving asylum in a New Haven church after being set to be deported back to his native Ecuador Tuesday.

The attorneys general have asked Trump to take action on the program by September 5, and undocumented young people are concerned their current DACA will not be upheld if the order gets abolished.

“The future is uncertain but I’m encouraged to fight back and hopeful, hopeful they’ll keep it (DACA),” Cortes said.

Connecticut Students for a Dream is holding a statewide meeting August 26 in Wallingford.