Hundreds of immigrants, students and immigrant-rights activists rallied in downtown Los Angeles in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program Tuesday, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over the Trump Administration’s efforts to end the program.
Some students walked out of classes and traveled downtown to take part in the rally and march to show their backing for DACA, which provides deportation protection for immigrants who were brought into the country illegally by their parents.
The Trump Administration has argued that President Barack Obama exceeded his constitutional powers by bypassing Congress when he created DACA by executive action. President Donald Trump has made his hard-line immigration policies, including pursuing construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, a centerpiece of his presidency and his re-election campaign for 2020.
DACA protects roughly 660,000 immigrants, mostly Hispanic young adults, from deportation and provides them work permits, though not a path to citizenship.
One DACA recipient rallying outside the federal building in downtown Los Angeles told NBC4 that ending the program will throw the futures of thousands of people into question.
“What happens to me happens to every DACA recipient,” she said. “The government has our information. We’ve been turning it in every two years. DACA, yes, is a work permit, but at it’s core it’s protection against deportation. If you take DACA, not only am I eligible for deportation, but the government has my information. So that’s something that we have to ring the alarm with our Congress and senators to find some permanent solution so we don’t have to keep having this fight every two years.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was among the attorneys arguing on behalf of DACA before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday.
“We take our historic fight to the Supreme Court to defend the DACA program,” Becerra said. “This fight is about protecting the doctors, the teachers, the innovators in the tech community. All those people who are out there doing great things for America and happen to be Dreamers.”
“President Trump’s reckless, heartless decision to end DACA runs counter to the values that we hold most dear that everyone who works had and plays by the rules deserves a chance to get ahead,” Becerra wrote on Twitter.
In contrast, Trump on Tuesday described many of the immigrants dubbed “Dreamers” as “hardened criminals,” but said that if the Supreme Court backs his decision to end DACA, he will cut a deal with Democrats regarding the future of Dreamers, as DACA beneficiaries are known.
“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from angels. Some are very tough, hardened criminals,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The Supreme Court case centers on the legality of Trump’s 2017 plan to rescind DACA. A decision is expected by June 2020, amid the presidential election campaign. The high court case is not over whether DACA itself is legal, but the steps taken by the administration to end it. For the tens of thousands of people affected by DACA, the difference is largely academic.
The Supreme Court case stems from lower court rulings in New York, California and the District of Columbia that blocked the president’s move and left DACA in place.
The lower courts ruled that Trump violated a U.S. law called the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires policy changes be done in an orderly way, in seeking to rescind DACA.
In his 2017 statement on phasing out DACA, Trump alleged there are “tragic consequences” to the United States of a decades-long failure by leaders in Washington to enforce immigration laws, citing “the illicit entry of dangerous drugs and criminal cartels.”
The program, which allows eligible immigrants to be issued renewable two-year work permits, remains in effect for those already enrolled, but the administration has refused to approve new applications.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, a former Obama cabinet member, held a news conference in Los Angeles Tuesday morning to showcase support for DACA beneficiaries. She was joined by DACA beneficiaries, Rigoberto Reyes, executive director for the county office of Immigrant Affairs, L.A. Community College District Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez, and members of civic groups.
“The County of Los Angeles opposes this administration’s misguided attempt to dismantle DACA. We will not stop fighting. I join in solidarity with educators, employers, medical professionals, students and community leaders in expressing our support of DACA,” sais Solis, who has authored and passed 45 motions at the Board of Supervisors to protect, defend, and fight for the rights of immigrants since the 2016 presidential election.
“This is unlike any other Supreme Court case. The Supreme Court’s eventual ruling on DACA will extend to our idea of humanity, and who we are as a country, and who we aspire to be. As the proud daughter of immigrants, I know this country was built on the tremendous sacrifices of hard-working immigrants.”
Without mentioning Trump, she expressed views sharply at odds with his stance that the Dreamers “are far from angels” and include “hardened criminals.”
“Dreamers embody the values of this country through their work ethic, their optimism, and unwavering loyalty to this nation. DACA recipients are military veterans, medical students, and employees of Fortune 500 companies. Dreamers are our friends, family members, employers, and neighbors. DACA recipients were brought to this country as children, and they grew up in the United States. This country is their home.”
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