Undocumented young people and immigrant rights advocates gathered outside the White House Friday afternoon, responding to reports that President Donald Trump is "seriously considering" ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that offers some protections to undocumented youth.
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Through the Obama-era program, undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children—often called Dreamers, after a similar legislative proposal that's been introduced repeatedly in Congress since 2001—can apply for temporary relief from deportation. DACA recipients are able to study at U.S. universities and apply for work permits.
Two immigrant rights organizations—United We Dream (UWD) and the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)—organized Friday's rally to protest claims from White House insiders that Trump will end DACA before September 5, the deadline he's been given by 10 states attorneys general, led by Ken Paxton of Texas, who are threatening to legally challenge the program if Trump doesn't rescind it.
Following the reports that Trump will end the program, Dreamers and immigrant rights advocates recommitted to fighting for DACA.
"Immigrant youth fought to create the DACA program and we will fight like hell to defend it," said Greisa Martinez Rosas, UWD's advocacy director.
"Killing DACA is a violent white supremacist priority," she added. "It is time for all people to organize with fierce and unapologetic determination to counter the vicious hate being pushed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and white supremacists in the White House."
"There is a clear connection between Trump's attacks on DACA and his comments on Charlottesville, hints at pardoning Sheriff Arpaio, and the Muslim ban. This is all one and the same fight, and it's part of Trump's white supremacist agenda."
—Ezra Levin, Indivisible
"This administration has been systematically targeting immigrants, refugees, people of color," said Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible. "There is a clear connection between Trump's attacks on DACA and his comments on Charlottesville, hints at pardoning Sheriff Arpaio, and the Muslim ban. This is all one and the same fight, and it's part of Trump's white supremacist agenda."
"It would be a grave moral and legal error for the Trump administration to end the DACA program," said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "We must not allow the hate and violence we saw in the streets of Charlottesville to become the guiding force for policymaking in this country."
Ending DACA would impact the more than 750,000 young people it currently protects, and could cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars, but Trump is under pressure from the Republican state AGs and his rightwing base, who supported his bid for president in part because of his xenophobic anti-immigration agenda.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Friday that DACA "continues to be under review," but refused give any indication of when the president will make a decision or what that decision will be.
On Thursday night, Axios also reported Trump may end DACA, noting that he continues to receive advice from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who opposes the program and worked as a senator to kill various version of the DREAM Act. Sessions, praising the states' challenge on "Fox and Friends" earlier this summer, said: "I like it that our states and localities are holding the federal government to account, expecting us to do what is our responsibility to the state and locals, and that's to enforce the law."
In response to the reports, there was an outpouring of support for DACA and its beneficiaries as well as condemnation for the Trump administration online.
— WorkingFamiliesParty (@WorkingFamilies) August 25, 2017
Dreamers are people. They are our neighbors, our classmates, workers. They are part of us. We will #DefendDACA. We will defend our people.
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) August 25, 2017
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— Women's March (@womensmarch) August 25, 2017
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) August 25, 2017
— 32BJ SEIU (@32BJSEIU) August 25, 2017
— ACLU National (@ACLU) August 25, 2017
There are 41K DREAMers enrolled in DACA in NY. They are our neighbors & friends. This is their home, and we will fight for them. #DefendDACA
— Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) August 25, 2017
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) August 25, 2017
— Rep. Ted Lieu (@RepTedLieu) August 25, 2017