As former President Barack Obama slammed President Donald Trump's decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Tuesday, thousands of undocumented immigrants and allies took to the streets in protest, including dozens arrested at a dramatic protest outside Trump Tower in New York City.
"To target these young people is wrong... It is self-defeating... And it is cruel."
—Former President Barack Obama"Ultimately, this is about basic decency," Obama wrote in a lengthy Facebook post, adding his voice to a chorus of condemnation that followed the announcement that the Trump administration will end DACA, which provides work permits and temporary protection from deportation to undocumented people brought to the U.S. as children.
"To target these young people is wrong—because they have done nothing wrong," Obama continued. "It is self-defeating—because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel."
In addition to calling upon members of Congress to pass immigration legislation—and noting they failed to do so during his eight years in office—Obama acknowledged the demonstrations, in favor of DACA, that have taken place nationwide for the past several days, adding: "It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today."
Outside the White House and Trump Tower in New York City, as well as across the country, undocumented immigrants and supporters of immigrant rights turned up in droves to condemn the Trump administration's decision, and compel Congress to take action to protect DACA recipients and the other millions of people living in the United States without legal status.
In New York City, at least 30 DACA recipients and allies were arrested for sitting on Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower, Gothamist reports.
The scene a block from Trump Tower in New York, where protesters are blocking traffic following the DACA decision pic.twitter.com/4359JeQ7En— Cora Lewis (@cora) September 5, 2017
Shortly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions' 11am announcement on Tuesday that DACA will begin a "wind down process," New Yorkers filled the streets surrounding Trump Tower, marching and chanting "No papers, no fear!" and "We reject a fascist America!"
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Meanwhile, outside the White House, hundreds gathered and called on "members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans," to pass legislation that protects not only those eligible for DACA, but also their families, and denounced any proposals that would position DACA recipients—often called Dreamers—as bargaining chips to strike a legislative deal to save them, but cause their loved ones to be deported.
In addition to rallying outside the White House, Washington demonstrators planned a march with stops at D.C.'s Trump Hotel, the Justice Department, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters.
Elsewhere across the country, Dreamers and their supporters organized events to protest the decision and share their stories. In Chicago, Beyond Defending DACA #ProtectionForAll was scheduled as a evening gathering for individuals who will be impacted by the DACA announcement to "share their testimonies and ask allies to defend all immigrants."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was among those who criticized the decision Tuesday, declaring the city a "Trump-free zone." Chicago is among the cities suing the Justice Department for threats to cut off grant funding if the city's police officers do not assist U.S. officials with implementing federal immigration laws.
The Los Angeles Times reports at least three local demonstrations were planned for Tuesday following the announcement. California's attorney general is one of several promising to legally challenge the administration's decision to end DACA, and several Democratic politicians in California told the Times state officials will take whatever actions they can to protect Dreamers.
Union members begin beating the drums outside the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to protest Trump's plan to phase out the DACA program pic.twitter.com/qA6bj5X3Fp— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) September 5, 2017