During the week before the presidential inauguration in January 2017, Monica E. Ahmad-Yee, who is the Managing Associate Attorney of the Jackson Heights, Queens office of YMF and the YMF Immigration Policy Advocacy Coordinator, submitted letters to numerous federal officials in support of the continued existence of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA is a program implemented under an order of the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security in 2012 allowing work authorization for certain individuals who entered the U.S. as minors. The correspondence was sent to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security General John Kelly, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, U.S. Democratic Whip Senator Dick Durbin, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat-the first person elected to Congress who was once undocumented. The correspondence highlighted the positive effects of DACA in the fields of real estate and architecture as the incoming administration considers whether to allow DACA to persist. DACA helps the U.S. to retain talent that promotes financial growth in the fields of real estate and architecture, areas in which President-elect Trump has shown a clear interest for decades. The purpose of the correspondence to various parties was to ensure that if it did not reach General Kelly directly, it could at least perhaps be forwarded to him or others close to him by Democratic elected officials who have demonstrated a commitment to immigrants’ rights.
There are DACA holders now in their twenties who are pursuing successful careers in the fields of architecture and real estate. YMF clients have declined to allow the details of their cases to be profiled in this correspondence, for fear of being targeted by the U.S. government in retribution for advocating in favor of a certain immigration policy. DACA-holding professionals in the fields of architecture and real estate worry about the future of DACA, and have recently applied for renewal of their DACA approvals. They are sure that they will lose their jobs with her current employers if DACA is revoked. These are college graduates who have received honors for their outstanding achievements in architecture and real estate. They have no arrest history anywhere in the world and no history of immigration fraud. As the correspondence sent to U.S. officials asked, “Would the U.S. Department of Homeland Security be serving the interests of the U.S. by repealing DACA and rendering professionals such as these unemployed?”
The submission included a New York Times article profiling a DACA recipient who currently works as an architect; a study calculating that ending DACA would wipe away at least $433.4 billion from the U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, cumulatively over a decade; and a similar study of the Center for American Progress stating, “At a time when the U.S. economy is finally emerging from the Great Recession, a loss of this magnitude is something the nation cannot afford.”