Political Activist, Hanna Gerhard, led an intense conversation at the Winthrop Public Library last Thursday regarding the challenge that DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) individuals are facing the last weeks before the March 5 deadline. The fear is that those 800,000 individuals protected by the DACA regulations, will be uprooted and deported however; there is still a lot of unknowns regarding what exactly this means for immigrants.
Individuals who entered the country as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, were protected under DACA, which was established by the Obama administration in June 2012 and gave these minors the chance to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation. The Trump administration has another plan in mind, and they are in the process of phasing out the program, which has led to many heated conversations amongst activists.
“Deportation is such a drastic measure against someone who has done nothing wrong,” said Gerhard. “It’s inhuman to take someone physically and move them somewhere else when they have no memory of their time there as little children and have no contacts.”
Gerhard herself came to the United States from Germany when she was 21-years-old. As a very adventurous and brave young lady, she worked as an au pair in England, spent some time in Switzerland, but her ultimate goal was to go to the United States, so she applied at the American embassy and her green card was mailed to her not long after. Because it was 1964, when the quota system was in effect, the application process was fairly easy, but that started to change just one year later, in 1965. Gerhard went back to Germany to attend school for a couple of years, and didn’t have much of an issue when she returned to the U.S. thanks to the green card that served as her ticket in.
“I came back and it was like I never left,” said Gerhard, who has been living here ever since. She came to Massachusetts in 1970 and settled in Winthrop in 1978.
The majority of the forum participants agreed that it isn’t right to deport people who were brought here as innocent children and everyone was united in the fact that this is an inhumane way of dealing with people. The people, who are potentially facing deportation, are no longer children and in most cases they are settled in their careers and immersed in their communities.
“A minor under 10 years of age is not responsible for actions that were taken by their parents,” said Gerhard. “They have no concept of it and they were just taken along. They have done nothing wrong.”
While opinions were voiced and conversations were had, it still remains that the one thing that the Winthrop community needs to do is form a local committee and spread the word about this being an injustice. Gerhard advised forum guests to call their representatives because every voice counts.
“The best way we can move forward is by doing work to create change,” said School Committee Chair Valentino Capobianco. “We need immigration reform, building a $70 billion wall and deporting law abiding dreamers is not the answer. We need congress to do their job and work together for bipartisan immigration reform.”