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We Spoke To Some DACA Recipients About Their Uncertain Future. Here’s What They Said

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On Tuesday, President Trump and his administration announced via Attorney General Jeff Sessions that they are rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) citing rule and law. The program was put forth in an executive order by President Obama on June 15, 2012. It allowed for people brought to the U.S. as minors without legal documentation to get work permits and driver’s licenses, and shielded them from deportation as long as they did not commit any felonies. Information on the status of the rescission can be found here.

Mitú went to the National DACA Mobilization Day in downtown Los Angeles and spoke with some Dreamers about what this decision means to them.

Maribel Serrano, Dreamer and filmmaker

CREDIT: mitú

“DACA gave me the permission to be the American on the outside that I’ve always been on the inside. It allowed me to work legally and to pursue passions that I have so I no longer have to work in the service industry,” Serrano says. “I no longer felt like I couldn’t sleep some days because I was afraid of deportation and it helped me to become more vocal and really tell my story and to get the heavy, heavy burden off my chest. At one point, before DACA, we were nonexistent. We had to live with this every single day. After DACA, we were able to tell everyone our stories, be open and just tell our truths. And that’s really all we’ve been doing is telling our truths.”

Edwin Soto Saucedo, Dreamer and law student

CREDIT: mitú

“I’m one of the primary incomes for my household. I have a single parent and we live in a lower privileged neighborhood, so taking away my job and everything that we’ve gotten used to for the past five years, we can’t even think about what might happen,” Saucedo says. “Obviously, I’m going to have to find another job that is paying under the minimum wage and just going back so much from what we are already used to. It impacts me and my little sisters. They know that I am undocumented, and trying to explain to a 5 and 9-year-old what the affects are and what DACA has done for me and what might happen because of it being rescinded is powerful. There are really no words to express other than it’s a major setback for my family, my community, my people and myself. My educational aspirations are also impacted. I fund my own education so it’s a lot.”

Nicholas Carrillo, ally

CREDIT: mitú

“I’ve have a few friends [on DACA] who’ve gone to college. I’m about to graduate from Cal State LA and I’ve been able to meet people that wouldn’t be in this country if it wasn’t for DACA. I wouldn’t have been able to grow alongside them and for them to teach me the lessons that they taught me if it wasn’t for that program,” Carrillo says. “I have friends that will have to go back into the shadows and family members who are afraid of losing the ability to work in this country and the ability to stay here. It’s devastating to be able to hold on to a little bit of hope and then for them to take [DACA] away. [Taking away] their ability to work, study and just have a family here, especially when all you’ve ever know is this country, is disgusting.”

Kim Mireno, ally

CREDIT: mitú

“I just think about all of that effort we put in to making our community better and it’s taken away just like that. I love my community. I love El Sereno. I love all the students of Roosevelt, Garfield, East LA, Boyle Heights [high schools]. I do this for them, and I just get so worried thinking about what their future is going to look like. They put so much into this country. They deserve to be here. My nephew deserves to see a better world where it doesn’t matter what status you have. You have an equal opportunity to pursue your dreams,” Mireno says. “They are the bravest people I know. I can’t even say that I have an ounce of the courage that they have. I look to them. They are my leaders.”

Justino Mora, Dreamer and co-founder of Undocumedia

CREDIT: mitú

“I’m undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic because I need to be. I have lost fear of this administration, of these white supremacists, because I understand that my community, that people power, is exactly what brings about change. We’ve seen this throughout history. The African-American community. The Civil Rights movement. The API community. Women fighting for the right to vote. We know that change is possible and that people power is greater than the people in power,” Mora says.

“My message to Congress is to get their act together. The Dream Act has been introduced several times. For more than 15 years, we’ve been fighting for the Dream Act or for comprehensive immigration reform,” he adds. “If they really mean what they say, they should pass it immediately. If they actually mean what they say about supporting undocumented youths, they should pass it tomorrow. That’s exactly what they should be doing, and they should pass other legislation to help the rest of the undocumented community come out of the shadows.”

Lauren Gonzales, ally

CREDIT: mitú

“I am documented but I see it affect everyone around me and I want them to see that I stand in solidarity with them, especially my boyfriend who is undocumented. So, I just want them to know that it’s really hard news. If this happens, they won’t be able to do a lot of what we’re able to do as citizens,” Gonzales says. “For my boyfriend, DACA made it so he was able to work. He was able to get his driver’s license. God forbid he ever gets detained to be deported. It would delay that. It’s helped him a lot with him supporting his family. I’ve seen it really help them because he really holds up his family and I’ve seen that.”

Yesenia Zavala, Dreamer and college student

CREDIT: mitú

“I’m very devastated because I know my parents sacrificed a lot to bring me to the United States. I was only a year old. I had no say in coming and to know that a man can just take all of my hopes and dreams away is just devastating,” Zavala says. “Because of DACA, I was able to get a job and go to school. I’m a full-time worker and a full-time student and with that I’m able to help my parents. I was able to get my own car. I have big dreams and hopes for myself and if that’s taken away, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Marisol Hernandez, Dreamer and educator

CREDIT: mitú

“I heard on the announcement that I am taking somebody’s job and I’m asking Trump, ‘Whose job am I taking?’ In my field, we’re short staffed and those kids need me. Whose job am I stealing? If you’re going to get somebody’s job, it’s because they didn’t deserve it. You get the job, fair and square. We’re not stealing anybody’s job and we’re not criminals. We’re teachers; we’re doctors. We’re not criminals,” Hernandez, an early education teacher assistant and teaching student, says.

“Please help us. Please. We’re humans, we’re not animals,” Hernandez adds as a plea to Congress to pass the Dream Act of 2017. “They define us as ‘illegals’ and that’s a wrong term because calling us ‘illegals’ dehumanizes us. Please. We’re human. We want a better life. Help us.”


READ: The Trump Administration Has Officially Rescinded DACA. Here’s What You Need To Know.

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Queer Latina Tiffany Cabán Makes History In Queens With New York District Attorney Primary Win

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Queer Latina Tiffany Cabán Makes History In Queens With New York District Attorney Primary Win

Instagram / @cabanforqueens

Tiffany Cabán, a queer Latina public defender, declared victory Tuesday night in a tight Democratic primary race for Queens district attorney.

“When we started this thing they said I was too young. They said I didn’t look like a district attorney,” Cabán, 31, said at her election-night party at a nightclub in Woodside, Queens. “They said we could not win, but we did, it y’all.”

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Cabán has currently received 39.6 percent of the vote, while the establishment’s favorite Melinda Katz garnered 38.3 percent. There are still 3,400 absentee ballots that need to be counted, which the Board of Elections said won’t be completed until next Wednesday.

Katz, who was endorsed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Queens Democratic Party chief Joe Crowley, who was ousted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) around this time last year, has refused to concede. She has also already made calls for a recount.

This has not stopped Cabán and her supporters from celebrating a victory.

“We’ve already won without knowing what the final tabulation is,” Maurice Mitchell, the national director of the Working Families Party, which backed Cabán, said. “We’ve already won. We’ve beaten the machine.”

Cabán, a democratic socialist, ran on a platform of “people-powered justice,” which included ending cash bail, not prosecuting subway turnstile jumping, prosecuting the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, closing Rikers Island and decriminalizing sex work.

“I am a 31-year-old, queer Latina public defender whose parents grew up in the Woodside Housing projects,” she said during her Tuesday night speech. “And I decided to run. I ran because for too long, too many communities in Queens hadn’t had a fair shot in our criminal-justice system.”

The Puerto Rican public defender received endorsements from progressive leaders like Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Most recently, the New York Times also backed the candidate.

“She is of Puerto Rican descent and is the first in her family to graduate from college. She would bring a perspective suited to one of the world’s most diverse communities, one where elected officials have rarely reflected that reality,” the publication said in its endorsement of Cabán.

Cabán’s likely six-person primary win would have her succeed the deceased Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and shift the borough’s, city’s and country’s tough-on-crime, prosecutorial approach in the DAs office.

Read: In New York, Queer Latina Tiffany Cabán Wants To Bring ‘Genuine Justice’ To The Queens District Attorney’s Office

After Denying It, HUD Declares Federal Housing Administration Is No Longer Helping DACA Recipients With Housing Loans

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After Denying It, HUD Declares Federal Housing Administration Is No Longer Helping DACA Recipients With Housing Loans

In a blow to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says young undocumented immigrants will be ineligible for federally backed housing loans. The news comes after months of confusion about the policy for immigrants who were brought here as children. Back in April, Secretary of HUD, Ben Carson denied this at a congressional testimony but a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official said last week DACA recipients are indeed not eligible for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are intended to make homeownership more attainable for those with lower credit scores and incomes.

Credit:@hispaniccaucus/Twitter

“Because DACA does not confer lawful status, DACA recipients remain ineligible for FHA loans,” Len Wolfson, a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official, wrote in a letter to California Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar last Tuesday. “Determination of citizenship and immigration status is not the responsibility of HUD, and the Department relies on other government agencies for this information.”

The latest declaration is a reversal from HUD’s previous statements to questions about whether FHA is backing mortgages for DACA recipients. The Trump administration has been trying to rescind the Obama era policy but has been blocked by a federal judge from doing so.

“I’m sure we have plenty of DACA recipients who have FHA mortgages,” Carson said at a congressional hearing in April. “I would simply say that I have instructed everyone to follow the laws of the United States with regard to DACA, with regard to anyone who is an immigrant or a potential immigrant to this country, and as long as you continue to follow the laws you will have my approval.

In the letter, Wolfson put the blame on the Obama administration for the policy and its regulations. He references former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s letter from 2012 that DACA “confers no substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship” for recipients.

Even after Carson said that “plenty of DACA recipients” were receiving FHA-backed loans, lenders were being told to do the exact opposite.

Credit:@buzzfeednews/Twitter

According to Buzzfeed News, After Carson denied the notion that DACA recipients weren’t being approved for FHA loans, many reported that they were still being denied help.

“The explanation we received from HUD is inconsistent with the realities on the ground and statements made by Secretary Carson to members of the Appropriations Committee, and it does nothing to clarify the confusion created by the agency’s inconsistent policies,” Aguilar said in a statement to BuzzFeed News last Thursday.

The FHA has never stated that receiving a loan means requiring citizenship or lawful status.

Credit:@senjackyrosen

DACA recipients had previously never faced problems when applying for federally-backed housing assistance. FHA has also never had a clear policy that pertains to DACA recipients. According to the FHA’s single-family housing handbook, a housing guide the agency refers lenders to, notes that an Employment Authorization Document, which DACA recipients possess, is necessary “to substantiate work status” for noncitizens and qualifies them for such loans.

Under the Obama administration, HUD was supporting DACA borrowers under these circumstances. Yet the Trump administration has clearly enforced these guidelines differently.

“We know that DACA recipients have received these loans in the past, and it’s shameful that HUD is allowing the president’s anti-immigrant agenda to dictate housing policy,” Aguilar told Buzzfeed News.

This news comes out as the House Financial Services Committee last Wednesday passed a bill, Homeownership for DREAMers Act, that guarantees DACA recipients have the right to obtain federally backed mortgages.

This means recipients also can not be denied based on their immigration status. The bill is set to go to the House floor for approval, but many believe it’s unlikely the bill will pass the Republican-held Senate or be signed into law by the president.

READ: With Democrats Now In Charge Of The House, What Does That Mean For DACA Moving Forward?

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