Dozens at CCM could lose protection
By Yesenia Perez
County College of Morris students whose parents illegally brought them as children to the United States may soon no longer benefit from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals if Congress phases out the program as ordered by President Donald Trump Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Approximately 50-60 CCM students benefited from the program, according to Dr. Bette Simmons, vice president of student development and enrollment management.
Signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, DACA protected undocumented immigrants from deportation providing that they they arrived to the United States before the age of 16, have attained or are working to attain a high school diploma or equivalent, and have no criminal conviction record, among other criteria. Starting Sept. 5, DACA applications will no longer be accepted. If DACA recipients know that their permit expires soon, they can renew it for a maximum of two years, according to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Without the help of the DACA program, many people have to face the fear of being separated from their families. Some of these people were brought into the country as toddlers, and therefore, this is the only place they know as their home. Many DACA recipients use their status to legally earn a salary and attend college, and some in the Morris County area have used their opportunity to enroll at CCM.
Approximately 48,000 New Jersey residents could benefit from DACA, according to the American Immigration Council. By this estimation, only six other states have a higher number of potential DACA recipients.
“DACA has given me the opportunity to work and have a driver’s license,” said Jennifer Maradiaga, a radiography major at CCM. “The situation with Trump is one of the worst news I’ve gotten throughout the year. I’m terrified of what will happen next.”
Now, many of the “Dreamers” live in fear because the future is unknown; however, some are also brave and ready to face what is coming their way.
For Eduardo J. Viquez-Mora, a nursing major at CCM, the decision brought, instead of fear, confusion as to Trump’s motivation.
“Us DACA recipients literally have to be model citizens in order to qualify and subsequently renew our permit every two years,” Mora said. “Every two years, we have to pay the fee. I’m confused as to why someone would want to close the doors on young people trying to better themselves. I’m not scared. I have no fear. When something is important to you, you find a way; when it’s not you, find excuses.”
International studies major Yahayra S. Mejorada said that government representatives who support the change do not understand what DACA recipients underwent to arrive in this country and be accepted by the program, in addition to the work they do as students so that they can benefit the economy and service the community in the future.
“They are in this country fighting for themselves because they want to succeed; they are here to better their lives and to be able to live a better life,” Mejorada said. “They don’t know our personal stories … They don’t know that we are honor students, members of Phi Theta Kappa, and looking to be nurses and diplomats who will proactively help the economy and potentially save their life.”