Why DACA is So Personal

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Melanie and daughter

We are an immigrant family: My daughter was adopted from Vietnam when she was an infant and we went through an enormous amount of uncertainty before securing her entry into the United States and her citizenship. I was also undocumented for a period of time and thankfully now for 20 plus years, a naturalized United States citizen.   Thereafter my ex, (also foreign born) and I were subjected to indescribable agony when The Defense of Marriage Act precluded us from equality under the immigration law, and we came within hours of our own “Sophie’s choice.”  I work with asylum seekers, each and every day.  I understand the fear and the abject trauma when one puts all of ones love, hope and life into a country.   The Dreamers did more than that – they had no choice….

This is personal to me – not only because we are an immigrant family having suffered enormous hardship on this path – but also because as most Americans do, whether immigrants or not, we know what is right:

As President Obama said today:

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?


It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Just as he did with his suspension of the entire U.S. refugee program I do not think that Donald Trump has the remotest clue about how the action of dumping DACA impacts and effects the lives of people -not 800,000 as a group, but 800,000, one by one, each with their own unique story – and how this further impacts their families and friends and employers and organizations and the states and the country as a whole.

My ‘infant’ daughter is now a junior at NYU and today, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions did Trump’s dirty bidding – announcing that 800,000 young Dreamers, one by one,  would be robbed of their DACA,  NYU reached out:

Dear Members of the NYU Community,

As I suspect is the case for many of you, I was profoundly disappointed by the Trump Administration’s announcement today rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This was an issue that cried out to be decided differently — a missed opportunity to display decency, to show compassion, and to demonstrate that it is at odds with our national values to make young people fearful of being deported from the country they grew up in and call home.

Without congressional action, DACA will expire on March 5, 2018. As negotiations over a potential legislative solution begin in earnest in Congress, NYU will continue to make sure its voice on this issue is heard loudly and clearly. On our own, as well as working with the national higher education associations, we will be pressing Members of Congress  to move quickly over the coming weeks  to identify a solution that will protect those currently covered by DACA. We will also closely follow the developments in the courts challenging today’s announcement, and will add our weight to those actions where we can.

Regardless of today’s announcement, NYU is committed to fully supporting our DACA students. We will continue to provide financial aid to undocumented students as before, and will work with students on a case-by-case basis to try to address any other issues that may arise as a result of today’s action.

Rest assured that NYU’s Department of Public Safety officers will continue neither to ask about the immigration status of those on our campus, nor will they convey an individual’s status to any other governmental entity. Similarly, the University will provide no information to immigration authorities about members of our community absent a court order, and stand prepared to fight any court orders we believe to be overly broad or invasive.

For the immediate future, I want to remind any undocumented members of our community of two things.

First, remember that NYU’s Immigrant Defense Initiative provides free legal advice, referrals, and/or representation on immigration issues to NYU students, staff, and faculty. Members of the NYU community can schedule a confidential consultation with an Immigrant Defense Initiative attorney by phone at 212.998.6640, or by email at immigrant.defense@law.nyu.edu. And members of the NYU community who would like to request assistance of any kind related to today’s announcement can contact us via this form. We will also continue to update our website with information and guidance for undocumented students.

And second, while you may feel fearful or dismayed today, remember that you are a member of a community that cares about you, a university where you are welcome and respected. Do not hesitate to ask for assistance; we are here for you.


Andrew Hamilton

Despite Donald Trump and the disappointing 60 million who voted knowing abject bigotry was the Trump ticket, I am still a proud American and that is in part because I am seeing so many other Americans now pulling together for what is right.  Right now, even within mere hours of this horrific news.   This will only serve to make us immigrants all stronger as we engage in this opportunity to intersect all our communities which care enough to wage the fight for what is right.

Please reach out to your neighbors – your kids’ friends and their families – and tell them we will NOT let them go- we will hold onto them – all Americans will fight alongside the Dreamers- until we are all safely secured in what is right!

Contact your Congressional Representatives to enact the DREAM ACT NOW!
Keep your eye keenly pinned on social media for calls to action….
Go America Go!

Melanie Nathan

The African Human Rights Coalition stands today in solidarity with DREAMERS.

The determination by the Trump Administration to end the DACA program for over 800,000 dreamers is cruel and unconscionable.  What makes this particularly insidious is Donald Trump’s failure to stand in front of his action by taking leadership on the issue to call upon the United States Congress to swiftly pass legislation that affirms DACA, with a promise to sign such into law.  This is indicative of the fact that his intention is to kill the program completely. The purported  basis for the withdrawal of DACA makes no sense, as its lopsided justification relies on unsubstantiated assertions, blatant lies, unproductive punitive motives, and it fails to take any cognizance of DACA’s  overwhelming positive impact and success.

We at African Human Rights Coalition are concerned, not only because we believe the human rights of so many young people and their families have been so horrifically impinged upon, but also we fear, that if unchecked, this sets the tone for the continued tyranny and cruelty which impacts us all, especially those in the severely marginalized communities within the immigration community and beyond.

We are calling on all to please express your outrage swiftly, consistently and peacefully and to also implore upon your representatives in Congress to work to right this insidious wrong.

Melanie Nathan

8 thoughts on “Why DACA is So Personal

  1. Melanie,

    In a different time and under better economic circumstances, immigrants were welcome, unconditionally.

    These are not those times. The world population was 1 billion people in 1901. Today it is not.

    But perhaps you can answer a few question to clarify your position.

    1. You decry the Wall but advocate amnesty. Do you realize you are advocating “Open Borders?”

    2. How many people will come with those Open Borders? 100 years ago, moving to the USA was a Big Deal when you had to leave everything behind. Now, you can stay in touch with a good Sprint international calling plan.

    And when ads for charities start out with “1.9 billion people will go to bed hungry every night,” why would any of those people NOT come, when we promise free food, free housing, free schooling for their children, etc. – and if we don’t, we’re “Racists,” as I’m sure you have been told.

    3. Where do you propose that we will get the $40,000 per immigrat per year to take care of those 1.9 billion people? $80 Trillion is more than our GDP.

    4. When did I lose my voice or my vote? Our Constitution and our enacted laws are contrary to DACA. Don’t I have a say in my own country? Or is my democracy take away as people wage Lawfare on my rights?

  2. Rest assured that NYU’s Department of Public Safety officers will continue neither to ask about the immigration status of those on our campus, nor will they convey an individual’s status to any other governmental entity. Similarly, the University will provide no information to immigration authorities about members of our community absent a court order, and stand prepared to fight any court orders we believe to be overly broad or invasive.


    I hope congress does pass a dream act to make all dreamers lawful in status. Then it becomes right. Then it becomes legal. Until then it is not legal and you do not have a “right” to reject law. The president takes the office to protect and defend the Constitution and all related laws. So if he does this he is a bigot ? By not complying with the law all members of the NYU Public Safety should be arrested and jailed. By disobeying law you are destroying the very Constitution that is protecting people with law. It is not right to disobey the law just because it does not fit anyone’s particular agenda.

    1. Well look ate what the Universities are doing NOW under Trump to try and take away sexual assault vicitims rights – they are allowing the Universities to give sexual predators a pass…. taking away the Obama Title IX rules/ – Oh but then thats okay because The SexualPredator in Chief has his HAND in it! He must protect the other men like him

  3. Melanie,

    More to the point, why are YOU “outraged” by the President’s decision to dump DACA?

    The law was always unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution plainly says that Congress has the authority to make and pass laws about immigration. Not the States, not the Supreme Court and not the President. Presidents Reagan and Bush did have a VERY temporary moratorium on removal orders while Congress was actively working to enact amnesty laws, during their administrations, but this is a completely new program creating an entirely new right. DACA is 5 years old, and there has been no likelihood of action by Congress, during that time.

    As a result, the program is not only illegal, but entirely unstable and unreliable. The truth is that the DACA applicants have always been in an uncertain limbo, never knowing what the next President or Congress would do. The President put this decision right back where it needs to be; with Congress – for which you should be thanking him, profusely, and urging Congress to act.

    President Trump also EXTENDED this illegal program to March of next year. Since the original law was unconstitutional, this action is also unconstitutional and illegal – for which you should be thanking him, profusely. I am not thanking him for doing anything illegal, but at the most I can compare his action with the temporary actions of Presidents Reagan and Bush.

    And it has had results. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has told us that “the Dreamers can sleep easy.” He has openly suggested he believes compromise is possible. Critics of the President – such as yourself – seem to be expressing OUTRAGE at even the merest talk of “compromise” because that might also mean tackling the Wall and finally putting an end to Open Borders. This is the reason our political system has finally failed: no one can compromise or speak civilly to people they do not agree with.

    And, really Melanie: despite the fact you write prolifically on this subject, you have failed to acknowledge the fact that President Trump acted on Congresswoman Pelosi’s request to reassure everyone that the Dreamers are not subject to immediate round up and deportation, but he also told Congresswoman Pelosi that he would sign the Dreamer Act IF Congress finally did its job and acted on it. He also cancelled planned ICE raids planned to round up as many as 8,000 foreigners and deport them, in the fact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

    And all I hear from the Left is their “outrage?”

    – Jim Wherry

    1. LOL as if you can Trust Trump not to round them up? Look at what Sessions is doing now – either Trump has no control – in the license he provided Sessions – or Sessions is rogue? They are going after everyone – not just criminals. Its happened in my neighborhood. I am seeing who they are deporting. Mothers- Fathers – rounding them up! Taking them away from their kids… I dont have time to answer in detail – save to say that DACA is Constitutional . That if Trump had any decent intent he would be demanding Republicans legislate the Dream Act immediately as a way to reassure the Dreamers. We know why he did this – to be seen to be doing something that works to stroke he base – and because he is a damn bigot!

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