Make the Road New York

Lizbeth Huitzil (center) at a recent press conference.

It has been a year since immigrant New Yorkers began to experience racist and xenophobic attacks from Donald Trump’s administration. Trump acted to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for many countries. ICE arrests have increased dramatically across the country. And the attacks on Muslim Americans and other of people have only gotten worse.

As a young immigrant and a Dreamer, the news every day makes me feel upset, frustrated and angry. I am 19 years old and I have just begun my third semester at LaGuardia Community College. One day I hope to become an ophthalmologist. But right now it feels like everything is being taken away.

At this moment when my future, my family, and my community are under attack, I expect the state that I’ve called home for 15 years to stand with me and my family.

That is why I joined other Dreamers and immigrant New Yorkers at Make the Road New York last week for the release of a “Respect and Dignity for all New Yorkers” platform that lays out how New York can, and must, step up for immigrants and people of color.

At this time of crisis, our community’s needs are urgent. Immigrant youth like me need to have equal access to higher education. So we must finally pass the New York Dream Act. Our parents and loved ones, who often need a car to get to work or take kids to school, need access to driver’s licenses to be protected from getting swept up by ICE because of traffic violations. So we need driver’s licenses for all.

And, with enormous projected cuts to vital services from Washington after a huge federal tax giveaway to wealthy households and big corporations, New York State must tax the rich (especially by closing the carried-interest tax loophole, and through a millionaire’s tax) to generate at least $6 billion in tax revenues, to be able to fund vital services like public education, adult education and health care. And, with our communities relying heavily on public transportation to get to school and work, we need the state to prioritize fixing the MTA, which is its responsibility.

New York has taken some steps forward by funding immigration legal services and through an executive order to limit cooperation between state agencies and immigration enforcement last year. But as the attacks from Washington intensify, we need much more action from Gov. Cuomo and our legislators.

I hope that they will read the “Respect and Dignity for all New Yorkers” platform and commit to taking action. In this moment, it’s worth repeating: We need action. Words of support for immigrants and people of color in this moment are nice, but they will not be enough.

Every family in New York should be able to feel safe and protected and have equal access to a brighter future. The 2018 legislative session is a critical moment for our state to protect New Yorkers from the onslaught from Washington and move forward along the path of justice and equity.

Lizbeth Huitzil is a DACA recipient and member of Make the Road New York, the largest grassroots community organization in New York offering services and organizing the immigrant community. On Twitter: @MaketheRoadNY