Declining number of DREAMers in NJ sparks concern at Rutgers


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Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

In response to a sudden decline in the number of DREAMers applying to renew their status, the Rutgers faculty union pledged to continue standing behind undocumented students.


With the renewal deadline for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status already in the rearview mirror, statistics show that fewer residents applied to renew their status this year, though the reason is currently unclear. 

“New Jersey, given that we have Newark, Camden and Jersey City as 'sanctuary cities' — we’ve been a reasonably good state for undocumented immigrants," said David Hughes, the vice president of the American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) at Rutgers University.

Hughes said a "sanctuary city" is one which the municipal government only complies with the orders of a judiciary. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer acting on his or her own, will get no cooperation from the local police or any local authority, unless or until they have an order from the court. Any sanctuary city will abide by what comes out of a court or judge, but a sanctuary city will simply not implement or comply with the executive branch by ICE. 

“We support what’s good for all of our students, and we want all our higher education to be affordable, preferably free for as many people in New Jersey as possible. That population obviously includes people with and without documents, and with and without status,” he said.

The AAUP-AFT denounced President Donald J. Trump back in October 2016 because he threatened to deport DACA students and they could not abide by that, Hughes said. 

Hughes said that in order to deport any Rutgers student the Trump administration will have to go through them. The union will defend any DACA student who finds themselves with a deportation hearing or order.

Last semester, the faculty union led hundreds of members of the community to the ICE building in Newark, where they accompanied School of Engineering junior, Carimer Andujar, to a mandatory interview with a deportation officer.

Andujar is a DREAMer and the president of UndocuRutgers on campus. 

At the time of this event, Sherry Wolf, the senior organizer of the AAUP-AFT, told The Daily Targum that it is the responsibility of the State University of New Jersey to fight injustices to its faculty and student body.

"Most people don’t have the union support and the student organizational support, so at least we’re in a place at Rutgers to summon this kind of solidarity,” Wolf said. “This is tremendous, but (protecting undocumented people) shouldn’t take this."

According to NorthJersey.com, “The numbers, released by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services this week, show that about 17,400 immigrants living in the Garden State are active in the program. The agency's figures show that 22,227 had been granted the protections since 2012 when the program launched.”

With about 20 percent of those eligible to renew their status failing to do so, one of the underlying questions is whether individuals are being deterred out of fear. 

The North Jersey article noted that many "were scared that the government would use the updated details to identify them for law-enforcement purposes."

The website also states that The Department of Homeland Security has terminated deferred action of nearly 1,500 people due to criminal violations.

According to a New York Times article, the top three states for DREAMers are California, Texas and New York, and 14 percent live in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. The majority of DACA recipients identify as Latino and 79 percent come from Mexico. 

Analysis from the Migration Policy Institute shows that immigrant workers who are eligible for DACA have, on average, "higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs than undocumented immigrants who are ineligible."

In an interview earlier this year, President Robert L. Barchi pledged to stand in solidarity with DREAMers at Rutgers.

There are nearly 500 DACA recipients currently enrolled at the University and Barchi told the Targum that Trump's decision to phase out the program was unwise. 

“While I believe it is cruel, I’ll go a step further than that — I think it is inconsistent with American values," Barchi said.


Samil Tabani

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