Students and faculty filled the Kimmel Center for University Life on Tuesday morning — the first day of fall classes — to denounce President Donald Trump’s plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months. The protest was organized by NYU Dream Team, NYU Asian Pacific American Coalition and NYU Sanctuary.
DACA is a program implemented by the Obama administration which grants work permits to young unauthorized immigrants who arrived as children while protecting them from deportation for two years. People can reapply for the program every two years. Approximately 800,000 people currently receive DACA protections, and Pew Research Center estimates that about 1.1 million people are currently eligible. DACA recipients were all 15 or younger when they first arrived in the United States, and most DACA recipients are currently in their 20s.
The Trump administration said that no new DACA applications or reapplications will be considered after Oct. 5, according to The New York Times. The move will leave hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants — who had been able to work and live as Americans — vulnerable to deportation and lead to a loss in their work eligibility.
NYU President Andrew Hamilton penned a letter to President Trump urging him not to end DACA on Friday, but just two days later Politico reported that the Trump administration was planning to shut the program down. In response to the Trump administration’s decision to end the program, Hamilton said that NYU stands with undocumented students and DACA recipients.
“We will continue to provide financial aid to undocumented students as before, and will work with students on a case-by-case basis to try to address any other issues that may arise as a result of today’s action,” Hamilton wrote Tuesday evening. “We will also closely follow the developments in the courts challenging today’s announcement, and will add our weight to those actions where we can.”
NYU Public Safety will continue not to ask about the immigration status of students while also not divulging students’ immigration statuses to government officials, according to the email. The university will provide information on students’ immigration statuses if ordered by a court, but Hamilton said that NYU will fight any court orders they deem “overly broad or invasive.”
CAS junior Husniye Cogur, who is a Senator-at-Large for the Student Senators Council, the president of NYU Dream Team and a recipient of DACA herself, led the rally along with Gallatin junior Aree Worawongwasu, the vice president of the Asian Pacific American Coalition. The pair led the crowd in various chants.
Cogur said that the protesters hoped to catch the attention of both the Trump administration and NYU. The group is already speaking with NYU’s administration about possible solutions to aid former DACA recipients. One option they are considering would be the appointment of a council or advisor that undocumented students could seek for advice. Additionally, she wants to see the school help out DACA recipients financially.
“I want to see financial aid given to undocumented students since they are not eligible for state or federal [financial] aid,” Cogur said. “I think it’s really important to help them on that front especially if they don’t have work authorization and they can’t afford to pay their tuition.”
Although Hamilton said the university will continue to provide financial aid to undocumented students like before, Cogur is asking for affirmation that the livelihoods of those affected will be well protected by NYU.
“I also want to see professionals hired that can guide and provide resources to undocumented students because a lot of the time we don’t really know how to navigate certain paperwork, or how to apply for jobs,” Cogur said.
Worawongwasu stressed the importance of this protest occurring on the first day of fall classes. Near the end of the event Worawongwasu led the participants in a chant, yelling, “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.”
The protesters numbered around 50 and included faculty. One of the protesters, CAS senior and Chair of the Student Senators Council, Juan Calero, expressed grave concern for those currently receiving aid under DACA.
“People’s livelihoods are in danger,” Calero said. When asked whether he was confident in Congress’s ability to pass its own protective legislation, Calero was not optimistic. The senior pointed to this year’s failed Republican healthcare bill as an example and said that legislation protecting immigrants would be even harder to achieve.
Email Sayer Devlin and Mack DeGuerin at [email protected]