Guyanese, Trinidadians rally in support of DACA

Dear Editor,

A couple of dozen Guyanese and Trinidadians, joined by a few nationals of other countries, rallied mid-afternoon on Saturday September 16 in Richmond Hill in support of DACA (Deferred Action on Child Arrivals) which was terminated by President Trump on Sept 6. The programme will be phased out in six months unless Congress passes legislation to address it with an alternative plan. President Trump is of the opinion that DACA violates the US constitution on executive power and has refused to extend the order that was issued by his predecessor Barack Obama. Trump has been under pressure from right wing anti-immigrant Republican groups to terminate DACA, and he decided not to renew the order.

DACA is a limited federal programme that was designed to protect immigrants who came to the US illegally as children (known as Dreamers) with their parents. There are some 800,000 such child immigrants. Some 1266 Guyanese and 3600 Trinis applied for DACA up until last year.  Tens of thousands of Caribbean nationals applied for DACA.

There are 42,000 DACA recipients in New York. Most DACA applicants are from California and nationals of Spanish speaking countries. They were brought into the US as children. They have virtually no experience or knowledge of the countries or societies where they were born.

Former President Barack Obama issued the executive order in 2012 to prevent these children from being deported. It has given them temporary status, to be renewed annually, to live, go to school, and work without fear of deportation.

DACA recipients have been demonized in the US. And the Richmond Hill rally was organized in solidarity with the recipients as well as to lobby the President and Members of Congress to find a way to allow the Dreamers to remain in the US without the threat of being deported. The attendees at the rally called for a repeal of DACA termination as announced by the President and an amnesty for DACA folks so they can become legalized.

Those at the rally said they came to support DACA recipients and to stand with the organizers of the rally.  The attendees held a banner, walked a bit, and sang chastising the President and his administration for ending DACA. They chanted they wanted restoration of DACA and legalization for undocumented.

It is noted that DACA recipients contribute billions to the economy annually. DACA people are a part of the fabric of the US. They have been in the country all their lives. They studied in America. Their parents work in the US. And they and their parents have been paying taxes that contribute significantly to the US economy. Immigration has been a lifeblood of New York City and NY State and I am of the view that a way should be found to legalize the undocumented immigrants since they contribute so much to the economy annually – estimated at over $50 billion annually.

The rally took place in front of Sybil’s take-away restaurant at 133 Street on Liberty Ave. The restaurant was packed with Guyanese shoppers with virtually none of them showing any interest in the rally just feet away from them. They did not even bother to query what the rally was about. They just went about their business.

One of the recipients of DACA, not of Guyanese origin, spoke at the rally. She has an American born child. If she were to be arrested and deported, it would lead to the breakup of her family.

Speakers at the rally urged Caribbean nationals to write their Members of Congress to take up this issue. Meanwhile, Trump has cut a deal with Democrats that could extend DACA when it expires in six months.

Yours faithfully,

Vishnu Bisram

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