July 23, 2019 | 71° F

Rutgers-Newark DACA recipients attend State of Union address

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To ensure its support of the DACA program, Yuriana Garcia Tellez was hired as the University’s new immigration case manager. University President Robert L. Barchi also reached out to students encouraging them to contact their local state officials. 

Esder Chong, a Rutgers Business School sophomore at Rutgers—Newark, and Juan Lopez, a senior at Newark’s Science Park High School and apart of Rutgers Future Scholars Program — two Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients — attended the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.  

Chong attended the event alongside Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-6) who oversees most of Middlesex County, as well as the Bayshore and oceanfront areas of Monmouth County, according to NJ Advance Media. Pallone invited her to help highlight the dilemmas faced by young people brought to the United States as children.

"She is exactly the type of young person we should be encouraging and supporting, not deporting," Pallone said in an interview with NJ Advance Media. "New Jersey is Esder's home and she shouldn't live in fear because of partisanship and procrastination in Congress."

Chong immigrated to the United States from South Korea when she was 6 years old. The Highland Park resident founded RU DREAMers — an organization for young unauthorized immigrants. She also runs for the Rutgers track and field team and studies finance and philosophy, according to NJ Advance Media. 

"We are virtually Americans in every way except on paper," Chong said. "I'm not sure how to describe an American if I'm not part of that definition."

Lopez joined Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-10) a Newark, New Jersey native, who covers portions of Essex, Hudson and Union counties, according to his site. 

He came to the United States with his family from Uruguay at 2 years old. After high school, he plans to attend Rutgers—Newark where he will study engineering, according to the press release. 

Since President Donald J. Trump’s began his attempt to terminate the DACA program in September, Rutgers has endorsed its support for DACA recipients.

The Daily Targum reported on an email sent by University President Robert L. Barchi, citing the Rutgers' efforts to support DACA protections and urging students to show their support before the program’s March deadline.

“Our advocacy, I believe, has made a difference in keeping this issue before Congress,” he said. “The House and the Senate will be considering DACA over the coming weeks, and Democrats and Republicans are putting aside their differences and seem genuinely poised to take action.”

In light of last week’s government shutdown, University Chancellor Debasish Dutta announced Yuriana Garcia Tellez would provide DACA recipients with more resources as the University’s new immigration case manager. 

Tellez will oversee Rutgers’ three campuses, identify the needs of each campus and help build a better system that connects students and faculty to resources. 

Until a final court decision is reached, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume accepting application requests from individuals who were granted deferred action protections under DACA before. 

Christian Zapata

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