MCTC student Jazer Mauricio flew from Minneapolis to the District of Columbia to lobby with National Hispanic Association of Leadership Conference to Minnesota senators and senators across the country to take a firm stance on defending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival recipients and DREAMers.
President Donald Trump’s administration formally rescinded DACA on Sept. 5, 2017, urging Congress to act towards comprehensive immigration reform. While new applications are not being accepted, renewals are, according to two judge rulings moving to block the administration’s decision to end DACA since September.
“The deadline is coming,” says Mauricio. March 5 is the deadline for DACA, being set by the Trump administration after its decision to rescind the program last year. After this date, it is thought that upwards of 1,000 recipients a day will have their permits expire. March 5 is the date that was set to urge Congress towards immigration reform, something the U.S. hasn’t undergone since 1986.
“We want to move as a student body to keep the conversation going. We want to think about what we can do here collectively,” Mauricio said.
While in D.C. in late January lobbying for DREAMers and for DACA, Mauricio spoke with Senator Marco Rubio, who during the government shutdown on Saturday, Jan. 20, advocated for creating a legal path to citizenship, yet did include “some form of border security” as insisted upon by the Trump Administration.
“We were able to send 836 letters to the US Senate – 650 went to Amy Klobuchar [from students and people from MCTC as well as from the state of MN] and the rest went to every other senator in the U.S. senate. They all got at least one,” Mauricio said.
On Thursday, Feb. 15, the Senate blocked all four bill proposals for immigration reform, leaving the fate of DACA recipients and DREAMers uncertain.
Mauricio, who is openly concerned with the nature of DACA recipients in this plan for immigration reform, has asked senators to “not be compromised on this term ‘chain-migration.'” Chain-migration, a term used since the 1960s, refers to the process by which immigrants who move to an area eventually bring with them their family members and/or spouses. “This affects American citizens, and not DACA recipients or DREAMers.”
Under the current visa program, immigrants who have been granted visas can request that their immediate family members and spouses be given visas, as well.
“I like to call it ‘family reunification,'” Mauricio said.
Contrary to President Trump’s claim that “under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives” the current system allows siblings, spouses, parents, and children of current permanent residents and natural-born citizens to be requested. The spouses and minor children of those migrants are also eligible.
“They don’t want to use the term ‘family reunification’ because it sounds too humane,” Mauricio said.
Depending on what country the family members are being requested from, some citizens and residents can wait up to 20 years for their family members to finally be granted a visa.
Should the March 5 deadline not result in a comprehensive plan for immigration, and specifically for DACA recipients, Mauricio believes that “some students will lose their scholarships and the enrollment rate will drop, since students won’t be able to work to pay for school.”
Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid but can receive state or college aid. That could change.
“There’s also the possibility and fear of deportation, of people being removed from their places of work and home because their protected status is removed,” Mauricio said.
Concerning what we can do as a campus, and as a people, Mauricio says “we have a voice. I have the opportunity to fly back and forth to D.C. but you can call, you can write. Anything counts. It doesn’t even have to be your own senator. You just pick up the phone and say ‘hey, I want you to protect DACA recipients and DREAMers – bye.’ It’s that simple.”
While it is easy to like and share on social media, Mauricio says that when speaking to senators, they resoundingly said there’s no real commitment online.
“But it only takes 15 to 17 minutes to write a letter and send it in the mail. It takes five to seven minutes to call D.C. and even if you don’t talk to anyone, you can leave a voicemail,” Mauricio said.