DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — On a day when hundreds of people officially became American citizens at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Brooklyn, just a few courtrooms away activists and immigrants were fighting for a path to citizenship for Dreamers.
"We are very glad to know that Judge Garaufis heard and saw the faces of our DACA recipients who are just as New Yorkers as Donald Trump, who are just as American as the president, as all of us are, yet have not been recognized by this government as such," said Marielena Hincapiè, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.
Since Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, more than 17,000 young people have lost their protections from being deported.
That's why six Dreamers and Make the Road New York argued for a preliminary injunction that would keep the DACA program alive.
Martin Batalla Vidal came to the states in search of the American dream when he was 7 years old.
"Even though we might not be born here, we consider ourselves Americans, New Yorkers," he said. "We've been here all our lives. Going back to our country is a country we don't know."
If the judge grants the injunction, eligible immigrant youths would be able to apply for work permits and protection from deportation for two years at a time. The government said it terminated DACA over concerns of litigation after receiving a letter signed by several attorneys general.
"Well, I'm in court today representing 16 attorneys general, so if they were worried about litigation risks, they got it wrong," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
The plaintiffs took their case to court after realizing many Dreamers were left out of a similar decision in California. The stay would be temporary. A permanent solution lies in the hands of Gongress.
"This is a Trump-created crisis," Hincapiè said. "This is a crisis that can be resolved by President Trump and Congress if they pass the bipartisan Dream Act. End of story. It's pretty simple."