Correction: A previous version of this article erroneously named a Social Security number as a “citizenship benefit.” The Ticker apologizes for this error.
With the Trump administration ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the over 8,000 undocumented students in CUNY — totaling 1 percent of the 800,000 DACA recipients nationwide — have been left in limbo. Both students and the CUNY administration, however, are speaking out.
DACA protects those who entered the country illegally as minors, shielding them from deportation for a two-year span per renewal and allowing them certain benefits, like a Social Security number.
Daniel Morote, Baruch College’s Undergraduate Student Government’s vice president of legislative affairs, organized 14 USG representatives to join a protest against the repeal of DACA on Sept. 9, in front of Trump International Hotel and Tower near Columbus Circle.
“The thing that scares elected officials the most is people that are united and rally for one common interest,” said Morote.
Morote stated that those who went to the protest were “standing up for undocumented students” and helping to make sure that students’ voices were not lost in the current political climate.
Other students who attended included Arvis Chen, chair of clubs and organizations and Isabel Arias, USG president.
Meanwhile, CUNY is doing its best to support its students during an uncertain time. The CUNY Citizenship Now! program partnered with a nonprofit called the New Economy Project in order to cover students’ $495 application fee for DACA renewal ahead of the Oct. 5 deadline. CUNY students, as well as non-CUNY students who meet income guidelines, can participate in workshops that guide them through the process of renewal.
CUNY Chancellor James Milliken has come out in support of undocumented CUNY students, releasing a statement that reads: “We are fully committed to the thousands of CUNY DACA students and will do all we can to support them. They represent some of the most talented and creative voices in the CUNY community and our city. We will do everything we can to help persuade Congress to shore up support for the DACA community, not undermine it, and CUNY will provide counseling and guidance to help our DACA students with their needs and questions.”
“As far as CUNY—and New York City in general—they’re very protective of the undocumented community in comparison to the rest of the United States,” said Jesus Calixto, an undocumented student attending Baruch. Calixto arrived in the United States when he was 2 years old, and has no memory of his country of origin—Mexico—or of his journey away from it. He faced hardship in middle school, being unable to attend certain school activities due to his status, as well as experiencing harassment.
“The issues I had were pretty much issues that I thought I was facing alone, being that I was undocumented,” said Calixto, a marking major. By high school he no longer hid his undocumented status, and by college he was speaking out about his story and doing activist work with the student-led CUNY DREAMers organization.
Though CUNY is “competent enough” to understand the lives of undocumented students, said Calixto, he acknowledged that some staff, such as those in the Bursar’s office, may not fully understand how to work with undocumented students’ situations, and may treat them as international students when they are not.
Morote is running a panel event on Sept. 28 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room about immigration and student involvement with DACA.