Members of DRUM South Asian Organizing Center are calling on President Obama to end deportations and grant administrative relief.
On Saturday, more than 120 members of the center, immigrant organizations and the community rallied in Jackson Heights as part of a National Day of Action.
“We need relief now,” said Nushin Tarannum, a 13-year-old youth member of Desis Rising Up and Moving, whose father was in detention for 17 months. “Detentions and deportations have broken our families apart. I don’t want to lose my dad again.”
Chanting “undocumented and unafraid,” immigrant communities in Queens and around the country tried to send a loud and clear message to Congress and the Obama administration.
According to DRUM, Obama — under whose administration more illegal immigrants have been deported than under any president in recent history — has the ability to stop deportations and provide relief for the undocumented immigrant community.
DRUM ralliers said that was made apparent when undocumented youth pressured Obama to pass Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a form of administrative relief for undocumented youth, which provides them with work authorization and a Social Security number.
“My son has received DACA and my daughter is being processed for it, but I am still undocumented and so is the rest of my family,” Sayma Khan, a work leader at DRUM, said. “My question is, if my husband and I are deported today or tomorrow, who will look after my kids?”
According to DRUM, the administrative relief would also benefit undocumented workers who face “exploitative working conditions” and are underpaid and overworked.
“I was sick for three days and was unable to work but the restaurant owner was unsympathetic and unsupportive,” Nilot Pal Das, an undocumented worker, recalled. “He told me that if I didn’t come to work, he would have me deported. Undocumented workers of this country are what keeps the wheels of the economy spinning. We want our basic human rights.”
While immigration reform has been in and out of Congress and the Senate for years now, DRUM members said that change needs to happen now rather than in the future.
“We can’t wait because every day, 1,100 families are broken apart by deportation,” said Nayim Islam, who was approved for DACA. “We call upon President Obama to use his executive power to end deportations and grant administrative relief for all undocumented immigrants.”
DRUM is a multigenerational organization of more than 2,400 low-income South Asian and Muslim immigrant workers, families and youth, directly affected by immigration and what it sees as educational inequity and economic injustice.