NEWARK, New Jersey -- A rally was held Tuesday for a Rutgers University engineering student who had been facing possible deportation.
Students turned out in support of Carimer Andujar, who came to the United States with her mother and sister to escape domestic violence in the Dominican Republic.
Assemblyman Gary Schaer voiced his support Monday for the Passaic resident, whose protective status under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy is now in question as she awaits a hearing with deportation officers.
"Carimer is an intelligent, civic-minded person who has lived by the rules while pursuing a shot at the American Dream with the hopes of earning a Master's degree," Schaer said. "At a time when she should be focused on studying for her finals, she's instead consumed by the worry that everything she has worked for could be taken away from her."
Andujar, a junior, attended local schools and graduated from Passaic High School before enrolling as a chemical engineering student at Rutgers. She had been awaiting renewal of her status as protected under former President Barack Obama's 2012 DACA executive order when she received a letter to report to a deportation officer, a request considered unusual given her status.
"The whole goal of DACA is to ensure that children who are brought here at a young age with no control over the situation, who adhere to our laws and work hard, should not be penalized, but instead have the opportunity to contribute to our society," Schaer said. "Carimer has epitomized this and devoted her free time to protecting other hard working, civic-minded individuals like herself."
Schaer joined around 200 supporters at the rally, held in front of the Peter Rodino Federal Immigration Building in Newark, where she met with the deportation officer. She was questioned and provided her fingerprints. Once released, she thanked protesters and said she is willing to fight to stay in America because she calls this country home.
"I'm happy that I get to go home to my mom, to my home," she said. "I'm happy I get to continue my studies. I'm happy I get to continue advocating for the rights of undocumented people everywhere. I'm happy this is my home. I'm happy all of you came out."
She has been a vocal advocate for undocumented students and a critic of President Trump's immigration policy.
"I want to thank all those who have come out to support Carimer Andujar," Congressman Frank Pallone said in a statement. "Her story is that of so many immigrants throughout our country and we need stand up and say 'no more.' Your voices will send a message to the Trump administration that its extreme policies are contrary to American values and that they are simply unacceptable."
Rally held for Rutgers engineering student facing deportation