DACA’s demise: The long good-bye



DACA recipients may be a small percentage of New York City’s population — just over 30,000 people in a city of about 8.5 million — but their fate carries great weight in a city built on an immigrant tradition.

The staff of the Midtown Gazette hit the streets to gauge reaction to President Trump’s decision to end the program.

The Fulton Houses

Rose Conklin at Fulton Houses, walking her dogs.

“This President’s gotta go. If [the Dreamers] are here, they should stay. There are people in this country that commit crimes. These are just kids,” said Rose Conklin, who lives at Fulton Houses in Chelsea. “I’m not from another country, but it’s not fair. Congress don’t do anything anyway. I hope somebody stops this. These kids, they can’t help where they were born.”


Trump supporter Michael Martucci, 52, a Fulton House maintenance worker.

Michael Martucci, a Trump supporter whose grandparents immigrated from Italy, has mixed feelings about immigration. “The [Dreamers] Obama signed off on, they should stay. If they’re here and they’re not making trouble, not a problem. I believe times have changed, this is not the same America that my grandparents came to,” he said. “Everything you see in the news from the last 20 years, drugs, violence etc., is coming from Mexico. I’m tired of it, it has to stop.”

He thinks the President was right to hand over the issue to Congress. “If Trump says one thing, people are going to cry from either side. So he’s saying, ‘Now you make the decision.’ I think he doesn’t want [these kids] to leave. But I think he doesn’t want to come out and say he changed his mind. Just because he’s President doesn’t mean he can’t change his mind.”

Chelsea-Elliot Houses

Martinique Torres, 40, with her son at the Elliott Houses.

Torres was born and raised in the U.S., but her parents are from Puerto Rico. “That’s inhumane, they’re people, they have no fault,” she said, of President Trump’s decision on DACA. “This is the land of the free. They’re kids! This is not what this country stands for. What do we tell our kids? That this is okay? I don’t want my kids to grow up being bigots and racists.”


St. John the Baptist Church

The sanctuary in St. John the Baptist Church.

John Regis Hollick, 66, who stopped at St. John the Baptist Church in Chelsea to pray during his lunch break, said he did not see why people currently protected by DACA should be denied the opportunity to live securely in the United States.

“It leaves them uncertain about what their future is, and that’s a terrible place to be,” he said. “There’s no reason why these people should be in that situation, it was nothing that they brought upon themselves. They’re not criminals.”

Hollick, who works in advertising in the neighborhood, said the decision to rescind DACA is incongruent with his interpretation of what it means to be Christian.

“I feel very, very sad that this is happening in this country,” he said. “The values of our country, to me this does not reflect that. I feel very sad for those people who are affected by this but I really pray that God will come to their rescue and protect them at this time, and I’ll be praying for them.”


The Church of St. Francis Xavier

A sign welcomes those who may be affected by DACA at The Church of St. Francis Xavier on West 16th Street.

The Church of St. Francis Xavier has attached a sign to its front gates, letting those who may be affected by the DACA decision know that they are welcome.

“I think that President Trump [doesn’t] have [a] heart. He has a rock,” said Moraima Hernandez, a U.S. citizen from the Dominican Republic works as a custodian for the church. “I can’t think about it. It’s so sad.”

“I don’t like how he talks to Hispanic people. I’m a citizen,” said Eliasaee Rodriguez, another employee at the church.


Masjid Ar Rahman 

Imam N. Khaled of Masjid Ar Rahman mosque on West 29th Street.

When asked about how DACA may affect the Islamic community, Imam N. Khaled of Masjid Ar Rahman mosque replied “We survived 9/11…life comes and goes. It won’t affect us severely but it still will, and what we can do is help those affected through our prayers.”


Salah Gaya outside Masjid Ah Rahman mosque.

“We are not the first generation of immigrants,said Salah Gaya as he left Masjid Ar Rahman mosque. “We (Islamic Community) have roots in this country and we are here to stay.” Gaya immigrated to the United States in 2010, having won the lottery. He is currently finance manager of Greenslate, a payroll service company.


S & R Medallion Corporation

Jhonny Barrera, a parking attendant at the garage on 12th Avenue and West 52nd Street.

“This is not good for my family,” said Jhonny Barrera, 47, a parking garage attendant with three nephews who could be affected by the decision. “This is their home. America is their whole life. Sending them back to Ecuador would cause psychological damage.”

“I have a 14-year-old son here who lives here under the DACA program,” said Nubi Pinos, 36, an Ecuadorian immigrant and Barrera’s sister. “We’re nervous but we’ll wait and see what’s going to happen to him.”


Alexander Abeth, a Haitian taxi driver, taking a break outside the garage.

Alexander Abeth, a taxi driver who moved here from Haiti in 1985, has a brother with no legal documentation. “I’m against this decision,” said Abeth. “Immigrants build America. We build the economy. And he wants to change it? Ain’t going to happen.”


LaVarr Rencher standing by his food delivery truck.

“It’s wrong to separate family,” said LaVarr Rencher, a food delivery worker and American citizen. “They should be able to stay. Everybody should be able to work here.”


Trump Tower

“My sister-in-law is a recipient of the DACA program, and she’s been married to my brother for seven to eight years, and has a daughter born in the United States,” said Erika Guerrero, 23, whose parents are undocumented immigrants from Mexico. “And so this affects her and also me personally because she’s like my sister and I would lose my best friend.”


“My boyfriend is undocumented. He didn’t tell me until last night,” said Emily Meyer, a 28-year-old, who moved from California to New York less than four months ago, “He was trying to keep it a secret. He was scared to tell me. He didn’t know what I would think… How it came up was because I was actually breaking up with him due to the distance. And he got really, really upset, and told me the reason he had been moody lately was because he had been so stressed out about the DACA decision.”


“I came here to defend DACA but also to support all my compañeros in the fight to dismantle white supremacy,” said Chris Ramirez.. “DACA is a bandaid for the immigration problem. We need to talk about the root of the problem. Our parents didn’t want to leave their countries. They didn’t want to leave their homes. The U.S. is the only country we know.”

“We’re not coming out of the shadows. You see us every day. We babysit your children. We clean your houses. We’re not coming out of the shadows. You see us every day so why are you denying us this? We’re just asking to work and not get deported. That’s it.


Union Square Park

Jessica Pabon and Mike Lassiter are part of the maintenance team at Union Square Park.

Jessica Pabon wouldn’t confirm whether she was documented but gave a nod of fear when asked whether a DACA repeal would affect her. “Oh, I’m not really scared, not yet, but in sixth months maybe. We’ve been talking about it a lot, ever since Trump was elected.”

“I don’t care,” said Mike Lassiter. “The way the whole world is going…America elected him, they made him president and now they’re gonna get the consequences.”


DACA recipients: where they come from and where they settle

Graph created with Tableau.