Rep. Payne to bring undocumented Newark high school student to State of the Union
Published January 30, 2018 | Brick City Live
Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr., announced yesterday that he will bring Juan Lopez, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform at tonight’s 2018 State of the Union–the first State of the Union address Donald Trump will deliver.
Lopez immigrated to the United States from Uruguay at age two and was raised in Newark. He was selected for the Rutgers Future Scholars Program, a college preparatory mentoring program for select first-generation, low-income, academically promising students from local schools. Lopez is currently a senior at Newark’s Science Park High School and plans to attend Rutgers—Newark on a scholarship to study pre-engineering.
The DACA immigration program was established in 2012 by executive order under President Barack Obama. It enabled residents who were brought to the United States undocumented as children to apply every two years obtain work permits and delay deportation.
The program applies to immigrants who were 31 years old or younger on June 15, 2012–the day the order went into effect; had continuously lived in the U.S. since June 16, 2007; and were under the age of 16 when they were brought to the U.S. The Miami Herald reported in January 2017 that nearly a quarter of a million eligible immigrants had registered for deportation protection under the order.
“I have lived the entirety of my life in the same place—the United States of America,” said Lopez. “My family emigrated from a third-world country for the sake of my sister and me, and every day I benefit from that decision. I am a DREAMer, and I will continue to dream whether here or wherever the government sends me.”
Since its first introduction in 2001, Congress has considered the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to permanent residency for the population currently covered by DACA. The act has failed to pass both houses of Congress despite multiple attempts at passage.
Last September, the Trump administration rescinded DACA protection during a spree of reversals of Obama-era executive orders. Enforcement of the rescindment was delayed until March 5th of this year, and protections for DACA recipients failed to win the day during this month’s government shutdown.
The most recent proposal to come out of the White House would provide a pathway to citizenship for nearly 2 million DACA-eligible immigrants, but would be hitched to a proposal to build a $25 billion wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and exclude parents of DACA immigrants from deportation protection under a family-based migration framework.
“DREAMers like Juan Lopez represent the bright future of our nation,” said Payne, Jr. “Despite a poisoned political climate that seems designed to make undocumented immigrants fail, Juan has found opportunities to flourish at school and in his community.”
Payne, Jr. continued: “He is a living embodiment of the American Dream.”
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