Dreamers Plead Obama for Mass Presidential Pardon

Standing on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan, Assembly members Marcos Crespo (front row, right)and Francisco Moya (front row, center), alongside activist César Vargas (center) and Senator-Elect Marisol Alcántara call on President Obama to stop DACA deportations and ask for presidential pardon. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

Standing on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan, Assembly members Marcos Crespo (front row, right) and Francisco Moya, alongside activist César Vargas (center) and state Senator-elect Marisol Alcantara call on President Obama to stop DACA deportations and ask for a presidential pardon. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

In only two months, Donald Trump will take office as the new president of the United States, and one of the main fears generated by his upcoming administration is that he may cancel the protections that President Obama granted to more than 800,000 undocumented people through DACA.

For that reason, activists and political leaders in the Big Apple met on Wednesday at New York’s City Hall to ask the outgoing president to, in an act of compassion, protect the beneficiaries of the Deferred Action through a presidential pardon.

“President Obama has the legal authority to grant such a pardon to these kids, and he should do it in order to guarantee that, at least for a while, they won’t be subjected to deportations that will affect their lives,” said State Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, the promoter of the proposal, which would help nearly 50,000 youths in New York who have been protected by DACA out of an estimated 250,000 eligible people. “When Obama leaves, they will be left with no protection.”

Crespo explained that this type of pardon has been granted by previous presidents such Andrew Jackson, who, after the Civil War, pardoned confederate soldiers, and Jimmy Carter, who did the same with those who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War.

“Many families and children have seen their homes break, and, while it does not solve the immigration situation, a pardon could halt this madness and give our communities time to work with the Trump administration to promote a compassionate immigration policy.”

State Senator-elect Marisol Alcantara also warned that the fight to defend undocumented people will intensify, as she advocated for them by calling on Obama.

“More than ever, we want to send a message to the president-elect and tell him that we will fight tooth and nail to protect our undocumented brothers and sisters,” she said. “At the same time, we ask Obama not to go without leaving a protection for the people who have DACA.”

For his part, Assemblyman Francisco Moya, of Ecuadorean descent, joined in the request for the presidential pardon in favor of family unity.

“We ask President Obama to make a change by pardoning thousands of undocumented students so they can have a chance at the American dream, to advance in their studies and to continue being a part of this country’s fabric,” said the politician.

Mexican lawyer César Vargas, who is a DACA beneficiary and an undocumented rights professor, pointed out that there is much fear among the community, which is why they will be pressuring the outgoing president to protect them. They even have planned a massive demonstration on Thanksgiving weekend from Trump Tower in Manhattan to the White House.

“We are afraid of what might happen when Trump takes office, but, as my mother taught me by example, we must always continue fighting, and during this struggle we ask Obama to help us keep our families together by granting us this pardon,” said the immigrant attorney, adding that, even if the pardon is granted, the new president would be able to overturn it with one stroke of his pen.

And, while at City Hall they announced that a formal letter soliciting the pardon from Obama will be delivered in the next few days, more than 500 students gathered in Manhattan’s Washington Square to express their support for undocumented people.

Through the Cosecha Movement’s sanctuary campus initiative, students – some of them DACA beneficiaries – said that NYU will be a refuge for immigrants and that they will not allow hate policies coming from Trump’s government.

“I arrived here when I was 2 years old. I am undocumented and, thanks to DACA, I have been able to work and study. But I want to say that I will stay here, because this is my country,” said a public health student who has received support from the university. She added that she “came out” as undocumented during a speech at her high school graduation. “I have nothing be ashamed of. This is a country for all.”

Likewise, Alejandra Ramírez, a social work student born in the United States, expressed her support for immigrants.

“I, too, am an immigrant because I am the daughter of Ecuadoreans and Hondurans, and I want to say to the people who do have papers to make their voices heard by making demands to elected leaders to show them that undocumented people are not alone in this fight,” she said.

Facts

  • An estimated 800,000 undocumented youths have benefited from DACA since President Obama granted the protection in 2012.
  • Nearly 50,000 youths benefiting from DACA live in New York.
  • An estimated 200,000 more are eligible for DACA in the Big Apple.
  • The original DACA program was implemented in 2012 by order of President Obama as an immigration relief.
  • DACA allows millions of undocumented people who arrived in the United States as minors to live and work in the country protected from deportation.
  • In 2014, the Obama administration tried to expand the benefit to nearly 5 million additional immigrants, among them youths and parents of U.S. residents or citizens through DAPA and the expanded DACA.
  • In February 2015, after a number of states filed a lawsuit, Texas Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued a cautionary order to block the programs.
  • Last June, as the case awaited to be solved in the Supreme Court, the judges reached a 4-4 split vote that stalled the issue.
  • An estimated 60 percent of the people benefiting from DAPA and expanded DACA live outside the 26 states that joined in the Texas lawsuit.
  • Activists estimate that, in New York, nearly 231,000 undocumented people would benefit if the expanded DACA and DAPA are fully greenlighted.

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