by Diondra Clements
On Sept. 5, it was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, would be ending, with President Donald Trump giving Congress a six-month window to come up with a replacement.
DACA is an immigration protection policy for undocumented citizens who were brought to the United States as children by their parents.
DACA has prevented certain undocumented individuals with minor protection from being immediately deported. There are over 800,000 people in the program, and those that are under the program can not receive any sort of financial aid, whether it be for school, welfare benefits or any other programs.
“Of course my first reaction was fear and anger” said 20-year-old Antonela Saenz.
Saenz and her sister have been a part of the program since 2013 and are currently both attending Capital Community College in Hartford.
“We came here when we were six, so this country is basically all we know. We’re just as much of citizens as everyone else in this country,” Saenz said.
Saenz is currently majoring in early childhood education and hopes to transfer to a four-year university to be a preschool teacher once she graduates. But with Trump’s decision to end the program, Saenz is unsure of what her future holds.
“The worst thing was when my mom called me crying, apologizing for everything when nothing is her fault. It sucks because all she wanted was for me to have a better life and now we have to continue to live in fear of what’s next,” Saenz said.
It is not only those who are directly affected by the decision with strong reactions. People who know someone affected, or are just touched by what is going on, are upset about the decision as well.
History professor Katherine Hermes said her initial reaction was “horror” but after some time, she “saw there was room for Congress to do something.”
“It was a grave mistake for the Trump administration to end it, as the DACA program helped 800,000 motivated people to be part of this society and to improve their lives,” said CCSU student and Student Government Association Senator Victor Constanza.
No new applicants were to be accepted after Sept. 5, and anyone whose DACA expires later than March 5, 2018, must renew by Oct. 5. Trump has given Congress six months to agree on a legislative order to make sure DACA stays in order or come up with something similar. Otherwise, Trump stated he will make an executive decision.
Many CCSU students stand in solidarity with undocumented citizens under the program.
There are over 10,000 citizens under DACA in the state of Connecticut.
“I hope this DACA act lights a fire under Connecticut legislature to pass something to help undocumented students with financial aid,” Hermes said.
An event is going to be held on campus by the Carrying Humanity As New Generations Emerge, or CHANGE, Club, called Change for Immigrants, on Sept. 14 at the Student Center Circle.
Speakers include CCSU students Jose Diaz, Jason Ramos, Erick Ramos and Constanza.
“Thankfully a lot of people are united in helping DACA recipients and supporting positive immigration reform,” Constanza said.