Over 100 NJ Dreamers, Immigrant and Youth Leaders Urge New Jersey Leadership to Immediately Expand Access to Driver’s Licenses on Anniversary of DACA’s End
To continue pursuing their education and career opportunities, Dreamers and DACA recipients need access to a standard state issued driver’s license.
New Jersey– (Thursday, September 5th) On the 2nd anniversary of the Trump Administration’s end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and with just two months left before U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments for and against ending DACA program, more than 100 New Jersey Dreamers, immigrant and youth leaders are urging New Jersey elected officials to expand access to driver’s licenses in an urgent letter to Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Governor Phil Murphy. Expanding access to driver’s licenses will prevent loss of mobility and lower risk of ICE detention and family separation for more than 100,000 New Jersey Dreamers.
Of the 100,000 immigrant youth (or “Dreamers”) in New Jersey who came to the United States as children and would qualify for the Dream Act, 17,400 are DACA recipients. DACA provides protection from deportation, work authorization, and the ability to apply for a driver’s license in New Jersey. The Trump Administration’s end of the DACA program in 2017 meant that more than 80,000 Dreamers could never apply for DACA — or a driver’s license. All Dreamers and DACA recipients will lose their access to a driver’s license if DACA is terminated by the Supreme Court.
The letter sent Thursday by New Jersey Dreamers and youth leaders emphasized the impact that loss of DACA will have on their lives including the loss of mobility due to lack of access to a state-issued standard driver’s license. Dreamers called on the leaders to prioritize expanding access to driver’s licenses. Legislation that would allow more residents to access regardless of a residents immigration status was introduced in December 2018 and is currently pending in the legislature.
The more than 100 signers include Esder Chong, President of RU Dreamers at Rutgers University-Newark, Erika Martinez, Make the Road NJ Youth Leader, Brenda Codallos, President of UndocuRutgers at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Sabrina Ahmed, the Student Body President at Rutgers University-Newark, and Cristian Aparico, the President of Dreamers+ at Brookdale Community College and many more.
Dreamers and youth leaders offere the following statements:
Erika Martinez, Make the Road New Jersey, Youth Leader, and Dreamer said,
“We call on our elected officials in New Jersey to expand access to driver’s licenses now. Trump ended DACA two years ago, and since then no one else has been able to apply. In two months, the program could be over permanently, as the U.S. Supreme Court hears the challenge to DACA’s rescission. If DACA is terminated completely, tens of thousands of Dreamers in New Jersey will lose their protection from deportation — and their license. We grew up here, have studied and worked here, and we need to be able to drive to pursue our dreams and support our families. Fourteen states have passed drivers licenses. In New Jersey, the stakes couldn’t be higher. We need action now.”
Esder Chong, President of RU Dreamers, Rutgers University-Newark said,
“Access to a driver’s license is access to higher education. DACA recipients are students, campus organizational leaders, volunteers, and work to pay tuition out of pocket. We need a driver’s license to fully access the educational opportunities New Jersey has opened up for us with in-state tuition and financial aid. The reality is, too many young immigrants can’t drive to their classes, extracurricular activities, internships, and so on. The inability to drive prevents many of us from reaching our full academic and professional potential.”
Cinthia Osorio, Wind of the Spirit, DACA committee Leader, said,
“Having a license as a DACA recipient changed my life. When I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I was able to keep calm and not worry about how I would get to my chemotherapies and doctors appointments. The DACA program helped me obtain a license, and to contribute more fully to my community. However, I am now at risk of losing it all once again. Without a legislative solution for the DACA recipients, I, like my fellow 17,000 NJ DACA recipients, are now wondering what is next. We are wondering how we can continue to help our families if we can no longer transport them and ourselves? How will I get to my job when the weather is bad, or what will happen if I need to take my mother to the hospital again?“