3 New Yorkers Talk About Life With DACA

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NEW YORK — George Kenefati, a sophomore at Macaulay Honors College in Manhattan, recently posted a social event on Facebook for his fellow students. It was meant to raise awareness of the challenges faced by students in the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program. Kenefati, 19, is originally from Venezuela. His family migrated when he was 6.

He expected a big turnout. But fewer than 20 people showed up. He didn’t mind. He’s friends with all of them. They passed the time eating cookies and drinking pineapple juice.

New York BureauIt was fun, and a mental vacation from the anxiety of not knowing what his future could be.

There are others just like Kenefati who feel like quintessential New Yorkers but know the government thinks otherwise. As long as they can remember, they’ve known the rumble of a subway train, the breathtaking view of Manhattan’s skyline and the smells — good and bad — of New York City’s vibrant and dynamic streets. These otherwise typical New Yorkers have had their lives turned upside down due to their lack of a U.S. birth certificate. President Barack Obama’s executive action in 2012 allowed them to live normal lives, while President Donald Trump has shown little regard for their future as lawful residents.

They are recipients of DACA, which was rescinded in September. DACA recipients have held protests, talked to the press and pressured members of Congress to help them by passing a palatable DREAM act. When some DACA members march, they chant “Sin DACA, Sin Miedo” or “No DACA, no fear.” What the marches or news coverage don’t show is the humdrum nature of their lives.

These three DACA recipients share their experiences, from when they first felt like New Yorkers to what it was like to tell their friends that they’re undocumented.

Jisu Kim, 23, is originally from South Korea; her family came over when she was in the fourth grade. She works at the MinKwon Center for Community Action, a community activist organization in Flushing, Queens, which she enjoys. She spends her free time watching YouTube videos of Korean pop singers. She’s sweet with a slightly awkward air.

Shareny Diaz Saldana, 28, came from Mexico City on a tourist visa when she was 2. She is a grants coordinator at CUNY Citizenship Now!, which provides free immigration law services. She lives in the Bronx and got married this year to a U.S citizen she met a few months ago. Both families think they’re going too fast, but she knows she made the right decision.

DACA recipients are often described in lofty terms. The Statue of Liberty gets mentioned at some point. But it’s also American to complain about the trains and enjoy a good, hot slice of pizza. Like these three.

  • Michele Ryan

    One in four American citizens unemployed. 40,000 veterans homeless and unemployed but illegal aliens security is the top priority? and why do they demand for a “clean” Dream
    act? why do they oppose border security? you would think DACA would be happy just getting to stay. They (DACA / Illegal alien activists) want more crossing the border illegally.

    There is an estimated 800,000 DACA recipients in the US. That is 800,000 jobs American Citizens don’t have or will be in competition for.The MSM and Democrats would have us believe that all 800 thousand DACA and TPS are not taking jobs Americans want. There not all picking strawberries they take great Jobs. Good enough jobs to buy homes put their kids through

    DACA is just like the TPS program (Temporary Protective Status) the goal for Democrats is
    permanent placement in the U.S. “Delayed” or “Temporary” are just terms used to mislead. These are programs used by Democrats to import as many refugees from third world country’s as they can then fight to keep them permanently. So their answer is pass a “Dream act” legalize millions of illegal aliens (DACA.) But they don’t want to separate families….. so add another 1-2 million. Same with the TPS program. Chain migration. Obama put a warm and fuzzy name on it “Dreamers.”Have you noticed the Democrats have actually changed the language. It’s
    not illegal alien anymore its “Immigrant.” They’re not adults, they are”Kids” or “children.”

    So when you hear of the “contributions” by illegal aliens paying taxes. Remember that also is also at a cost in jobs citizens should have. Why must the citizens of our country have competition for jobs, education in their own country from foreign nationals?

  • tasam1

    Giving amnesty to millions of illegal aliens who are covered and eligible for the President Obama-created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would cost American taxpayers a total of $26 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).