Menendez Leads Rally to Protect DACA Program, DREAMers Under Threat by Trump Administration

Menendez Leads Rally to Protect DACA Program, DREAMers Under Threat by Trump Administration

Menendez: “I worked for years to make this program a reality, and I refuse to see it dismantled in the name of nativism”

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a nationally-recognized leader for immigrant rights and one of the champions who convinced President Obama to take 2012 executive actions on immigration, was joined today by DREAMers, community leaders from across the country, and Speaker of the N.J. General Assembly Vincent Prieto at a rally at New Jersey City University in defense of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.


The DACA program, which has allowed 800,000 immigrants – including 22,000 in New Jersey – brought into this country as children through no decision of their own to legally remain in the U.S. and contribute positively to its economy and culture, is currently under threat as reports indicate the Trump administration could officially rescind it as early as today.


“Ending the DACA program would create a national emergency. It would shatter families and strike fear into our communities,” said Sen. Menendez.  “How stupid, how cruel, how reckless is a policy that puts hardened criminals and law-abiding students in the same bucket for deportation?  The message out of today’s rally was loud and clear: We will fight this administration every step of the way if they choose to go after our DREAMers, and we will also seek legislative measures that enshrine protections, put families first, harness the talents of all of our young people and honor the motto that has defined America from the start – Out of many, we are one. I worked for years to make this program a reality, and I refuse to see it dismantled in the name of nativism.”

The Senator was joined by local DREAMers, local advocates and community leaders, Speaker Prieto, and dozens of members of the Quad Caucus of Minority Legislators, local elected officials from across the country in demanding that the Trump Administration to continue to shield DACA recipients who came to the United States as children, and not cave to pressure from anti-immigrant forces. It is estimated that ending DACA would shrink New Jersey’s economy by over $1.5 billion annually, and our national economy by $460 billion over the next decade.


"Stripping legal status from these young men and women would not just be heartless, it would be a detriment to both our economy and our nation's future,” added Speaker Prieto. “We're talking about people who were brought here as children through no fault of their own, who in many cases know no other home and who are now given the opportunity to work, go to school and contribute to our country. I would like to thank Senator Menendez for his steadfast advocacy on this important issue and offer my full and unequivocal support for protecting the DACA program."




“Thank you Senator Menendez for standing with us and thank you for your fight,” said Sara Cullinane, director of Make the Road New Jersey. “We are here because this is another attack coming out of our White House.  Make no mistake, the same ideology that motivated men to march with torches in Charlottesville is motivating this attack on our immigrant youth.  We cannot afford to stand by and watch.  We must stand up and continue to fight.”


“I am currently in the process of applying for college, so for me, DACA’s end threatens the security and peace of mind that I was previously promised when applying to college and applying for work,” said DREAMer Erika Martinez, a rising senior at Union County magnet high school, where she is an honors student. She came to the U.S. from El Salvador when she was four years old and recently applied for DACA. “Today, we are here to acknowledge and harness the power of the people that won DACA.  We are here to commit to the fight to protect DACA and to fight against the racism that threatens the U.S.”


“DACA’s future hangs in the balance. And while we don’t know if DACA will be revoked this afternoon, tomorrow or not at all, I am here for those families like my own whose food on the table depends on the future of my DACA,” said Sara Mora, DACA recipient who came to the US with her family when she was 4 years old from Costa Rica and is currently pursuing her degree in diplomacy at Seton Hall University. “If my DACA is revoked, I will be thrown into the deportation line along with 800,000 other young people throughout the country.”


Senator Menendez, who has led the fight for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, is throwing his support behind bipartisan legislation recently introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to protect DACA recipients and allow young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship.  This legislation is currently before the Senate as the Trump Administration threatens to end the DACA program.