As Deadline Looms, Activists Mobilize to Defend DACA

By Gloria Alvarez, EGP Managing Editor

Youth covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, their parents and immigrant rights advocates on Monday began a weeklong series of civil actions to fight efforts to end the program.

DACA allows young people brought to the country illegally as children to stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation. Upwards of 800,000 people have already been granted DACA status and as many as 200,000 applications have been filed since Trump became president.

The attorneys general of 10 states, however, have threated to sue the Trump administration if the program is not ended by Sept. 5, the date it is set to expire.

“We are on alert for what can happen on Sept. 5th,” Melody Klingenfuss, a spokeswoman for the California Dream Network in Los Angeles told EFE. “So this is a reminder to all that we are in this fight until the end,” Klingenfuss said.

The mobilizations, organized as part of the “Rise Up 4 DACA” campaign, kicked off Monday with coalition members posting banners and sign over the 101-Hollywood Freeway during morning rush hour. It was followed by a meeting with U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris where activists called on the senator to continue to defend DACA recipients and to work toward legislation to gives “Dreamers,” as the young immigrants are often called, permanent residency.

“One in four Dreamers lives in California and Sen. Harris knows the value of the contribution we and our families make to the economy of this country,” pointed out Klingenfuss, a native of Guatemala and a DACA beneficiary.

At Monday’s meeting with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) and the California Dream Network (CDN), the senator vowed to fight for DACA’s survival.

“We will fight to keep the spirit behind DACA alive,” Harris said.

In April, Trump seemed to back away from his harsh campaign rhetoric promising to deport anyone in the country illegally. He told the Associated Press at the time that he would prioritize the deportation of criminals, so DACA recipients should “rest easy.” He added that he would handle the program with “heart.”

But it appears the president may again be reversing course, with White House officials saying last week that he is weighing whether to allow the program to just expire or to cut it immediately. The program “continues to be under review,” Trump Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters last Friday.

Dreamers said they planned to meet with Harris at least twice this week, and are seeking to firm up commitments from other California Democratic members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez.

The California Legislature will also be a target of action and several delegations were headed to Sacramento Wednesday to lobby state lawmakers.

“We need the state to be committed to defending ‘Dreamers’ and to not [allow them to] become targets of local authorities,” CHIRLA spokesman Jorge Mario Cabrera told EFE.

DACA supporters planned to bombard the White House with phone calls demanding the president keep DACA in place. They called on voters everywhere to the same.

“They are playing with the Dream Act and making political bets to see who wins,” warned Ivan Ceja, director of UndocuMedia. “We cannot let them continue to use us this way,” he said.

Ceja was referring to the crusade by conservatives to abolish DACA, potentially placing nearly a million young people in danger of deportation. The state attorneys general, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, argue that Obama’s executive order creating DACA is unconstitutional and should, therefore, be halted.

Immigrant rights activists say efforts to end the program, which has the support of a wide mix of interests, including small to large businesses, law enforcement and religious groups, are misguided and would harm the economy.

Ending the program would cause thousands to lose their jobs and result in a $460 billion loss in gross domestic product (GDP) over the next decade, warns a study released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress and FWD.us, an immigration reform group started by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech leaders.

“If Pres. Trump puts an end to DACA, he would be demonstrating once again that he prefers the white supremacist agenda and is not interested in the well-being of this country,” warned Cabrera.

A large demonstration has been planned for Friday in front of the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles.

“We are inviting everyone, immigrants, Americans, undocumented, documented to join us,” Klingenfuss said. “Dreamers will never abandon this just cause.”

Information from EFE was used in this report.

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August 31, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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