Rutgers DREAMer Faces Possible Deportation

By Brenda Flanagan

DREAMer Carimer Andujar rallied marchers last November in support of unauthorized immigrants and to make Rutgers a sanctuary campus.

“Which means that students like myself … will be able to go to class and not fear deportation,” she said.

But this month, the firebrand president of UndocuRutgers got a letter from ICE ordering her to a meeting with deportation officers early next month. She reached out to friends.

“I think she was extraordinarily intimidated and it’s terrifying. How could it not be terrifying? You could have your entire life uprooted. Everything you know taken from you,” said Rutgers AAUP-AFT Senior Organizer Sherry Wolf.

Wolf says Andujar’s campus network launched an immediate counter-offensive contacting powerful politicians. The 21-year-old Rutgers student, who came to New Jersey from the Dominican Republic at age 4, felt suddenly vulnerable because routine renewal of her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, paperwork had been mysteriously delayed.

“Folks reached out to Sen. [Cory] Booker’s office, who I believe also reached out to [Sen. Bob] Menendez’s office, and suddenly paperwork started to get corrected and expedited,” Wolf said.

A meeting last night drew 150 faculty and students, all determined to defend the outspoken engineering major who enjoys deep support here.

“She’s standing up for people who don’t have a voice. She’s standing up for people who can’t speak upfor themselves. And she’s bringing all those people together to make a safe space for them,” said Kayla Gomez.

“I think it’s unfair because Rutgers is already hard enough and you really don’t need something like that,” said Victoria Adeleke.

Andujar today posted a comment saying, “Because of this kind of outpouring of support, including from political leaders and unions, the threat of deportation has almost certainly lifted through the renewal of my DACA papers … We still aren’t completely sure why ICE has targeted me but we are working with local officials to find out. It’s important to remember this might be a bureaucratic error.”

But some advocates questioned ICE’s motives.

“Clearly if she’s high-profile they might have been aware of her,” said immigration attorney Cesar Martin Estela, “and that’s probably one of the risks she assumed in becoming so high-profile. It could be said, it’s a way to stifle any sort of activism.”

There’ve been no reports of other DACA students in New Jersey being ordered to report, although a couple of DACA students on the West Coast have been deported. The Trump administration has indicated they’re not a priority.

“My organization has not targeted these so-called DREAMers, DACA. And we have many, many more important criminals to go after and get rid of,” said Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

Rutgers University noted increased ICE enforcement in New Brunswick has caused distress on campus and said, “We have been aggressive in our commitment to protecting student privacy and to providing legal resources and other assistance to any students affected by these actions and we will continue to do so.”

Meanwhile, Andujar still has an appointment with ICE deportation officials.

“With the powers to detain and, yes deport. Now we don’t believe that that is likely to happen right now precisely because of the stink that’s been made and the outpouring of support that has been absolutely colossal here at Rutgers, but what about all the other people who don’t have this kind of support network?” asked Wolf.

Andujar’s statement says she plans to join a mass rally in support of immigrants here on campus on May 1. But she must still report to the ICE deportation officers May 9.