(Report compiled by Stephannie Zambrano)
OMAHA, Neb. — At around 10 a.m. central time on September 5th, anxiety, fear and heartache was felt by 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients around the U.S.
President Donald Trump announced the undoing of an executive order that President Obama put in effect in June 2012. The executive order allowed young children that were brought to the country by their parents — without proper documentation — an ability to work and stay in the country without fear of deportation.
Now Congress has exactly six months to take action on the rescinded executive order. If not, DACA recipients will be at risk of deportation.
There are 3,300 DACA recipients in the state of Nebraska.
Nebraska was one of the 9 states in the country, prior to the announcement which threatened to sue the Trump administration by September 5th if he didn’t take action on removing DACA.
Last week a large crowd met on the steps of Nebraska State Capitol to defend DACA. Zaida Mendez, University of Nebraska at Omaha student, shared her feelings on the matter.
“I am 19 years old and I’m a DACA recipient,” Mendez said. “I’m mad and I’m sad but I’m not going to let that get to me.”
Mendez was the first speaker to speak at the rally organized by several non-profits including Nebraska Appleseed, Heartland Workers Center and Justice For Our Neighbors, among others.
State Senator Patty Pansing-Brooks of Lincoln, also spoke at the rally.
“Get out — Be a body — Be a voice,” Pansing-Brooks said. “Do not get tired. We need everybody working together, fighting for these fabulous young people who improve our state.”
There was another forum last week held at the College of Saint Mary Auditorium in Omaha where a large crowd led to an overflowed room. Justice For Our Neighbors Executive Director Emiliano Lerda was there and didn’t hold back.
“I feel like it’s a big mistake that is basically turning our back on the future,” Lerda said. “I think it’s a short sighted, cruel decision that is really going to negatively impact the communities at a very local and very real level.”
The forum was led by the Justice For Our Neighbors and community organizers spoke about how to get everyone organized.
Yajaira Gonzalez, a community organizer for the Heartland Workers Center and UNO alum, is saddened by the President’s announcement but she was still hopeful.
“Because that was it’s such a huge part of our life and you’ve lived in the shadows for so long,” Gonzalez said. “(When) you finally come out it’s rewarding and it’s liberating and when you have the wings you don’t want to take them off. So, now it feels like they’re being taken off — but it’s not up to somebody else to be in power of my life — it’s up to me.”
Following President Trump’s announcement on the removal of DACA, 15 states and the District of Columbia sued the administration challenging the rescindment. Another meeting is being organized by Young Nebraskans in Action and will take place Tuesday, September 12 at 6 p.m. at the Heartland Workers Center in Omaha.