Immigrant Rights Clinic co-hosts panel on anniversary of federal DACA program

On August 14, NYU Law's Immigrant Rights Clinic co-hosted a panel with the New York Immigration Coalition and New Yorkers for Fair Immigration Reform to highlight the benefits of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Panelists included Congresswoman Yvette Clarke of the U.S. House of Representatives, Professor Hirokazu Yoshikawa of the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, and Jacki Esposito of the New York Immigration Coalition. The panel also featured several recent DACA beneficiaries who serve as community organizers with the Black Institute, Make the Road, MinKwon Center for Community Action, and El Centro del Inmigrante.  

The panelists discussed the importance of DACA, a federal program that provides a two-year, temporary reprieve from deportation to undocumented youth who meet certain age, residency, and educational requirements. DACA went into effect one year ago, on August 15, 2012. As Professor Yoshikawa explained, thousands of young people have applied for DACA over the course of its first year, but represent only a fraction of the total number of qualifying immigrants. He emphasized the need for more outreach, financial assistance, and educational services, efforts that the New York City Council has recently supported through the allocation of $18 million in funding to improve access to DACA.

All of the DACA beneficiaries emphasized the positive impact that DACA has had on their lives, highlighting their ability to access jobs, drivers’ licenses, and other benefits in New York. However, they also emphasized the need for a comprehensive solution that involves a path to citizenship for themselves and their families. As David Chung, DACA beneficiary and youth organizer with the MinKwon Center, explained, “this is my home . . . and this is my parents’ home too.” 

Many of the organizations highlighted on the panel have been working closely with members of Congress, including Congresswoman Clarke, to push for comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Congresswoman Clarke discussed the latest efforts in Congress, highlighting some of the recent efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives to address aspects of immigration reform. She urged support for “an immigration system that honors families.”

Posted on August 16, 2013