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Rogelio Aguilar/Al DÍA News
Rogelio Aguilar/Al DÍA News

Mayor Kenney recognizes the fourth anniversary of DACA

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Mayor Jim Kenney and the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) celebrated the four-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) at City Hall Wednesday afternoon.

This policy allows undocumented eligible immigrants who entered the country at a young age to apply for temporary deferrals of deportations and work permits.

Kenney recognized two DACA recipients in honor of the program’s anniversary.

“These young beneficiaries have provided inspiration in their pursuit of the American dream,” he said.

One of the beneficiaries, an Indonesian immigrant named Julius Wibisono, reflected on how the policy changed his life.

 “‘You’ll never be able to afford college. You’ll never be able to drive a vehicle. You’ll never be able to fit in with your friends.’ These thoughts were some of the things that were running through my mind before I became a DACA recipient,” Wibisono, a Roman Catholic High School alumni said.

Kenney noted the economic and educational benefits of DACA, based on a nationwide survey released by the National Immigration Law Center, the Center for American Progress and the University of California- San Diego in 2015.

“A full 96 percent of respondents are currently employed or in school, showing that DACA has significantly helped recipients participate in the labor force,” he said.

The survey also reported that 69 percent of recipients are getting better, higher-paying jobs than they had before they received DACA, with 57 percent of them reporting moving to a job “that better fits [their] education and training” and 54 percent moving to a job with better working conditions.

Wibisono, who will be attending Lehigh University this upcoming fall semester, says DACA is the reason he has the opportunity to pursue higher education.

“It’s because of this program that I have a $60,000 scholarship for school. Otherwise, I don’t know where I’d be; my family doesn’t have that kind of money,” Wibisono said.

In light of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s immigration policy, Kenney is worried a Trump administration might “jeopardize” the DACA program.

“Considering the things that are coming out of these days, the Republican Party need to figure out how to handle him,” Kenney said.

In any case, the Philly native advocates for the DACA initiative on behalf of the City of Brotherly Love.

“On this fourth anniversary of the program, I want to be clear that Philadelphia and my administration strongly support DACA and encourage Congress to pass meaningful immigration reform so our country can have [socially and economically] benefit from it,” he said.

Miriam Enriquez, director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, also acknowledged the DACA-versary as it falls during Immigrant Heritage month.

“The Office of Immigrant Affairs is proud to be a partner in this fourth anniversary celebration especially in a time when we celebrate the American experience and we encourage all immigrants to tell the story of how they first felt welcomed to the American experience,” Enriquez said.

Other Pennsylvania cities recognized the immigration policy’s four-year anniversary. In Reading, Make the Road PA held a 4-year anniversary event at their organizing center. The nonprofit group’s director, Adanjesus Marin spoke about DACA’s successful role in immigrant students’ lives.

“[The program allows] immigrant students to come out of the shadows and participate fully in our society, making many outstanding contributions,” Marin said.

Since its implementation by President Obama in 2012, DACA has accepted recipients in all 50 states.

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