Sunday, May 06, 2018
"By Jonathan Blitzer December 8, 2017
"In September, after Donald Trump cancelled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the popular Obama-era program that granted legal protections to undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. as children, he told the program’s seven hundred thousand recipients, who then faced the prospect of being deported, that they had “nothing to worry about.” His decision didn’t end the program right away—it gave Congress six months, until March, to negotiate a policy solution. Until then, the President said, “No action!”
But Trump failed to mention that the hundred and fifty-four thousand daca recipients whose statuses were scheduled for renewal before March had only until October to send in their paperwork. (Under Obama, recipients had to reapply for daca every two years.) Some twenty-two thousand of them didn’t submit their materials in time. Each day since then, according to the Center for American Progress, a hundred and twenty-two daca recipients have lost their status, meaning, among other things, that they can no longer legally work in the U.S.
One of them is Brittany Aguilera, a twenty-eight-year-old from Trinidad, who came to the U.S. when she was three. She lives in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, in New York City, with her mother, father, and younger sister, who is a U.S. citizen. Before Trump’s decision, Aguilera’s daca status—which she had held since 2012—had been up for renewal this month. She sent in her paperwork in September, after Trump’s decision, but an error meant that her renewal wasn’t processed before the deadline. She spoke with me on Wednesday, the night before her status was due to expire. Thursday was her last day at work, as a nanny in Brooklyn. This interview has been edited and condensed.
“My whole legal situation ended up coming up junior year in high school, when the P.S.A.T.s came up. They asked you for your Social Security number. I didn’t know what a social was. I asked my teacher. She said, ‘It’s a little blue card.’ I was, like, ‘I've never seen that in my life.’ At the time, I didn’t really question it. It was just the P.S.A.T.
“I wanted to go to college out of New York. I wanted to see something new. There were these writing scholarships. Senior year, my honors-English teacher showed me what I needed to submit for my applications, and again the social came up. It also asked for a passport or a form of I.D. I didn’t have any of this! That was when it really hit me. It all went downhill from there.
“I ended up applying to Queensborough Community College for nursing. It wasn’t the major I originally wanted to do; that was journalism. But I loved school. Then came the time to get to the major. You need to provide certain documentation. I didn’t do it. I dropped out of school. It was then that I took my first childcare job, and I’ve just been working since.
“I applied to daca immediately, right when it came out, in 2012. I went into hibernation mode when I first applied to it. I told my friends I couldn’t hang out, that I wanted to focus on this. At that point, all I was hearing in my head was, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ Even when my dad told me about it I was, like, ‘This is not going to work out, but I’ll do it.’ I got the first letter that they got my application. I got my appointment for biometrics, did that. And then I just waited. I got my approval letter three weeks after my biometrics appointment. I never really worried. I’m in good standing. I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do.
“When Trump won, I thought, daca’s going to be gone. There was a sense of exhaustion, of being permanently tired. More than really stressed, more than really worried; it was more of a tired feeling, like a heavy blanket."
A DACA Recipient Describes the Feeling of Watching Her Legal Status Expire | The New Yorker