Hundreds of immigrant-rights activists gathered outside the Edward Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles on Friday to urge President Donald Trump not to repeal an Obama-era program shielding young immigrants from deportation.
Advocates held signs reading, “No More Family Deportation” and “Stop the Hate.”
They chanted, “If they don’t let us dream, we don’t let them sleep!”
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, created by President Barack Obama has granted nearly 800,000 immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children the right to remain in the U.S. and attend college, buy homes and pursue careers.
The Los Angeles rally, and others like it around the nation, took place as Trump weighs whether to eliminate the program, something he vowed to do during his presidential campaign.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday said Trump would make an announcement Tuesday.
Rumors arose this week that Trump already had decided to terminate DACA, but Sanders denied those reports.
“The president’s priorities on immigration are to create a system that encourages legal immigration and benefits our economy and American workers,” Sanders said.
Meanwhile, immigrants are bracing for the prospect of work permits ending, jobs going away and possible deportation, if the president keeps his campaign promise.
“(Trump) loves people and he wants to make sure that this decision is done correctly,” Sanders added.
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and other Republican leaders on Friday also urged Trump not to repeal the program.
“I believe this is something Congress has to fix,” Ryan said in an interview with WCLO talk radio in Wisconsin.
Still, many of the president’s most ardent supporters demand that he keep his campaign promise.
Republican officials from 10 states have threatened to file a lawsuit to stop the program. They gave the Trump administration a Tuesday deadline to act, although the attorney general of Tennessee, Herbert Slatery III, said Friday his state would no longer pursue the lawsuit.
Trump railed against the Obama-era program with gusto for months, branding it “illegal amnesty.” He later, however, said it’s been one of the most difficult issues he’s dealt with and promised a decision with “heart.”
Ivan Ceja, 25, a recipient of the DACA program, attended the L.A. rally and said it’s time to move forward.
“We’ve been expecting respect. We’re going to demand it,” Ceja said.
Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, said they are not giving up without a fight.
“These young people have been fighting all their lives to be recognized as the Americans that they are.”
“They are American. This is their home. This is where they went to school. This is where they have their families, their parents, their everything,” Salas added.
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The program, which Obama enacted as an executive order, allows people who arrived in the United States before age 16, and who meet certain other criteria, to defer deportation. They can get work permits, continue their education, and apply for permission to travel in and out of the country. Recipients must renew their applications every two years.
It has provided work permits and deportation relief to about 800,000 undocumented immigrants
Immigration-rights advocates said they are aware Trump is under pressure to do something, but they’re not sure what he will do.
White House officials told some news outlets this week that Trump will end the program but likely allow current recipients to keep their status until their work permits run out.
“It’s hard to predict because we’re dealing with a president who is so unpredictable,” said Sally Kinoshita, deputy director for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco.
Still, advocates are preparing for the worst. Throughout the week, some have staged protests, call-a-thons and hunger strikes across the country.
For Iveth Diaz, 26, who has legally worked and studied in the U.S. since the program was enacted, the effects of a DACA repeal would trickle down to her family.
“My family depends a lot on me, financially,” said Diaz, who works as a coordinator for Cal State San Bernardino’s Office of Graduate Studies. “It’s not something that just affects me, it affects the people around me.”
Diaz, whose work permit expires November 2018, said she’s been mentally preparing for this since Trump took office. If anything, she hopes she’ll be able to work until her permit expires.
“I have that year to figure out my life,” Diaz said.
The Source: dailynews