Nadia Habib, an undocumented Stony Brook University student who faced deportation to Bangladesh a year ago, has an appointment at the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement this Monday, Oct. 1, to find out whether or not she will be granted another stay of removal.
Last September, the senior psychology student and her mother had to present themselves for deportation at the ICE office in New York. But after several lawmakers wrote letters asking the agency not to deport the two and a rally for them was held outside the office that same day, Habib and her mother received a stay of removal for a year, which expires this Monday.
Habib and her family came to the U.S. with a tourist visa in 1993, when she was only one year old. Her father was able to get a green card, but she and her mother, Nazmin, have not been able to obtain their own.
Although she is confident about getting her stay of removal renewed, Habib said she is worried that her mother will not get her stay of removal renewed.
“Last year was such an explosion,” she said. Habib said the two cases, which were combined last year, are now separate because she has filed an application for President Obama’s Deferred Action program, which allows young undocumented students to stay in the country legally for at least two years. Habib hopes that will increase her own chances of staying.
Critics have said the program is a Band-Aid solution because it does not provide a permanent relief for undocumented young people.
“It’s not a real solution. It just pushes the problem further away,” Habib said. “I’m happy that kids are getting work permits, but I’d rather the DREAM Act pass.”
The program benefits those who were brought to the U.S. before their 16th birthday, are in school or are veterans of the U.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces, and have not been convicted of a felony or pose a threat to national security, among other criteria. The program, which the president issued as an executive order in the summer, also allows these people to work lawfully in the U.S. for at least two years.
Critics have argued that this population is going to take jobs away from American citizens and legal immigrants. Habib said that is not a legitimate concern.
“If American citizens are already not finding those jobs, I don’t think a bunch of kids looking for jobs now will take away from them,” she said. “Why whine about it now? What difference is that going to make? It’s a very small percentage of the population.”
Up to 1.7 million people might be eligible for the program, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
Basmah Elgendi, a senior business administration student at SBU, said those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children should not only be legal but become citizens.
“I think they should get citizenship because they’ve been living here like any other American,” she said.
Nicole Ranaldo, a senior biology major, said undocumented students like Habib should never face deportation.
“Obviously, they’re not hurting us,” she said. Ranaldo also said that the Deferred Action program is “useless” because those young people would be working anyway.
Habib, who turned 21 on Sunday, works as an assistant at the university’s Department of Anesthesiology.
Habib is running a club called the Dream Team, which aims to raise awareness about rights and resources for undocumented students.
The group meets every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Lauterbur.