New York has given me that Refuge
In this film, refugee South Asian LGBTQ+ activist Barbara Khan talks about her migration from Pakistan and her life in New York as a trans woman.
I graduated with an associate degree in December, but I am still studying and hope to transfer to a four-year university. I only have temporary residency in the United States and a temporary authorization to work through DACA, which was set up by the Obama administration. I have to renew my status every two years and pay a fee. […]
Because of my job I have to travel to Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. We assist Guatemalans who live in the United Stares but don’t have the proper documents. The only document they might have is a valid Guatemalan passport. They can’t travel because they’re afraid something might happen.[…]
I’ d like to continue work to help my community. I’ d like to major in political science, though I still have mixed feelings about that. I’m fond of it as a theory, but I need to involve myself more and do something. I’ve never thought about teaching but I am considering working for the government to help the community, to make a change. […]
MAYBE I’LL BE DEPORTED
I’m sad to know the president has made this decision about DACA. It is unbelievable that this administration’s agenda is clearly to go backward instead of forward. lt’s no surprise to me though. This was going to happen; we just didn’t know when. But it’s hard for me right now to digest this news.
I quit the other organization after three years; it was time to make more money. I got a new full-time job. I’m processing visa applications for business executives. It’s not very meaningful.
I’m the only one of my siblings here who is on DACA. […]
I’m taking an English class and a history class. If everything works out as planned, I’m hoping to transfer to a university soon. But I think that DACA is over. Once my few years of work authorization are over next year, I guess I’ll leave this company as well. I don’t think I’ll be able to get my work authorization back. My DACA would have expired in 2019, but now I guess it’ll become invalid in March 2018. The expectation that in six months Congress will be able to create a replacement law and pass it is very unrealistic. 11This was an expectation expressed to Congress by former President Donald Trump in connection with his suspension of DACA. Now they have all of this damage from the hurricanes that have been happening, which is important to take care of as well, of course. With all of that going on, I don’t see how they can reform immigration law as well.
I have to live day to day not knowing if I’ll be able to keep working here, even living here. Maybe I’ll transfer to the university next year as planned, or maybe I’ll be deported back to Guatemala.
In addition to poverty and a lack of prospects, fear of (gang) violence is a central cause of flight for many people from Central America. Around 7.5 million illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America live in the USA. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) also estimates that about 100,000 migrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala apply for asylum in the United States each year. To avoid arrest, refugees must pay smugglers, known as coyotes, corrupt border agents and take risky escape routes. During their flight, migrants are repeatedly abducted, mistreated and sexually assaulted. Many are considered missing. As a result, at the end of 2018, a large migration train formed in Honduras, joined by thousands of people from El Salvador and Guatemala, to cross into the U.S. through Mexico under cover of the crowd and on foot. However, they were denied entry to the border on the grounds that they were not from a country at war and therefore not eligible for asylum.
Ismael Xol was born in Xolcuay, El Quiché in Guatemala and crossed the border into the United States at just 15 years old. Ismael was granted DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) status, which allowed him to legally live and work in the United States. With the presidency of Donald Trump, in 2017, this program was terminated, but a deportation freeze was maintained for the time being. From then on, Ismael lived with great concern that he would soon be deported. However, in the immigration dispute, U.S. President Donald Trump has suffered a defeat in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld protection from deportation for some 700,000 immigrants in 2020 who had come to the U.S. as children.Under President Biden, DACA was again to be implemented by executive order; this time, however, the federal court ruled against reinstatement. Thus, the future of DACA remains uncertain; currently, the program is only a protection for those already in it.
Mayers, Stevens / Freedman, Jonathan, 2019: Solito, Solita. Crossing Borders with Youth Refugees from Central America. Haymarker Books, Chicago. pp. 234-237.