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‘Dreamers’ Speak Of Fear, Anxiety At Trump’s Immigration Crackdown

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Claudia Torrens
/
AP

Immigrants who were brought to America illegally at a young age shared their stories at a Suffolk County Human Rights Commission forum on Wednesday night. They spoke about the fear and anxiety in their communities as the Trump administration reverses Obama-era policies.

Nelson Melgar came to America from Honduras when he was 13. He spoke about what it means to him to be an immigrant without documentation.

“It means to have no leisure time. It means to have no rights. It means being in a constant state of fear, both of the authorities and the future. And there is no question in my mind that when I obtained DACA in 2012, everything became much better. And thanks to DACA, I no longer live in the shadows.”

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, known as DACA, provides driver licenses, work permits and social security cards to immigrants who came to America illegally at a young age.

But the Obama-era program is under threat as the Trump administration begins to reevaluate the policy.

Laura Lemus arrived on Long Island when she was 6-months-old. She qualified for DACA, and spoke about how her life would change if it were dismantled.

“That means I’ll not be able to drive. That means I’d have to give up my car. That means I have to give up my job, my salary, my benefits. The reason why I share all of this with you today because we are here to be as loud as possible with our new president and remind him that these are lives, these are our jobs, these are our day-to-day.”

A report by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says more than 40,000 immigrants in New York have received protection under DACA.

Rabbi Steven Moss, chair of the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission, says any immigration reform would impact real people.

“Laws are made to protect people and to give them the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And the sad part of it is that we seem to have this development of laws right now, which are denying people those rights. And there’s a lot of questions as to the rights of the people who are here legally or illegally. But the bottom line is that they’re all human beings.”

The event was organized by a coalition of Long Island-based rights organizations, including the Turkish Cultural Center and the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition.

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