For over a century, the United States has been seen as the nation that opened its arms to immigrants seeking a better life for themselves. Lady Liberty stands on a pedestal in the New York Harbor holding a torch as if to guide newcomers to the Empire State–to the United States of America. Perhaps, if immigrants and longtime New Yorkers thought about the many immigration laws that have either barred or controlled the number of particular nationals from entering the country, people would reconsider just what huddled masses does the United States accept? How many Americans know that Ellis Island was for the 3rd-class ship passengers? The 1st- and 2nd-class passengers received brief medical examinations on board the ships and disembarked on the piers in New York or New Jersey.
Patrick Buchanan, White House Director of Communications for US President Ronald Reagan (1985 – 1987), stated on public affairs program The McLaughlin Report that the United States was established to be a predominantly white nation. When US President Donald Trump rescinded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in September 2017, and began dismantling TPS (Temporary Protected Status) in November 2017, he is executing the conservative Republican playbook.
DACA is a policy created by US President Barack Obama in June 2012 to allow undocumented young people who came to the United States as children to remain in the United States. Some terms for applying for this status include 1) being under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012; 2) being under 16 years of age at arrival to the United States; 3) being physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012; 4) the individual does not pose a threat to national security and has not been convicted of a felony, serious misdemeanor or no more than three misdemeanors; and 5) currently attending school or about to graduate from school.
With the granting of DACA, people can legally work after applying for an Employment Authorization Document that is valid for two years. The risk involved in DACA is that the status is discretionary and revocable.
TPS is a temporary immigration status given to nationals of Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua due to civil unrest and armed conflict, natural disasters, epidemics and other extreme temporary conditions. TPS eligibility requires “continuous physical presence and continuous residing in the United States since the date specified for the particular nation of origin”.
On November 18, 2017, local elected and government officials as well as nonprofit leaders took up City Council member Jumaane Williams’ call to march across the Brooklyn Bridge to converge on Foley Square. These actions were in support of New York residents and to take a stand against xenophobia. On January 22, 2018, the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Congress will vote on the TPS status for Haitians.
Holding placards that read “Protect Our Immigrant Community” and “We Want Justice”, the local elected and other dignitaries chanted several rounds of “We are Working People Fighting Back!” and “Yes to Immigration, No to Deportation”. Rally participants included NYC Council member Jumaane Williams (45th CD), NYS Assembly member Rodneyse Bichotte (42nd AD), NYS Assembly member Michaelle Solages (22 AD), Public Advocate Letitia James, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Assistant Commissioner Kavita Pawria-Sanchez, 1199 SEIU Vice President Gerard Cadet, HabNet Chamber of Commerce CEO Jackson Rockingster, Haitian-American Lawyers of New Jersey and Haitian-American Lawyers of New York.
The preponderant concern of the body was that people with DACA or TPS status were, in the main, law-abiding contributors to the local economy. NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer remarked, “We have to back up our defense of TPS by using facts: There are 12,000 TPS in New York City paying $200 million in taxes. They are driving the economy. Haitians have always been on the frontlines of DACA and TPS. Now they are going after children.
C.M. Williams, who referred to President Trump as “Agent Orange Man”, said, “The threat of the repeal of DACA is an attempt to sow fear and terror but actually it is bringing the Haitian and Muslim communities together.”
Public Advocate Letitia James opined, “This xenophobic [national] administration would lead you to believe immigrants are hijacking our culture. This country was built by immigrants. Ending DACA is not grounded in factual or intellectual consideration. I am urging the US Congress to have strength in the back to maintain DACA and TPS. Love, hope and faith are stronger than hate”.
Carrie Solages expressed strong concern for people with TPS or DACA status who were returned to their nation of origin. Mr. Solages believes “these people will face torture—physical and psychological terror”.
Immigrant Affairs Assistant Commissioner Kavita Pawria-Sanchez attended the rally with her family. Pawria-Sanchez viewed the rally as “a great example of how our communities cross lines to fight for TPS and DACA. The Trump agenda is immoral and an affront to our city. The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs has held over 600 Know Your Rights forums in 2017. Congress must extend TPS for Hondurans, Salvadorians and Haitians”. Ms. Pawria-Sanchez went further by pressing the need for permanent legislation becaus