Hundreds of activists and immigrants gathered in downtown Los Angeles Friday to rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which could be dismantled or altered by President Trump.
The program, known as DACA and introduced by former President Barack Obama in 2012, allows people who were brought into the United States illegally as children to work and study in the country without fear of being deported.
Trump has taken a hard stance against illegal immigration, but has not given a strong indication of whether he plans to keep DACA in place. Recent unconfirmed media reports have suggested that Trump is prepared to end the program outright.
Questioned Friday morning, Trump said he plans to issue a decision “sometime today or over the weekend.”
“We’ll issue it sometime over the weekend, maybe this afternoon,” Trump said.
Asked if DACA recipients — generally known as DREAMers — should be worried, he responded, “We love the DREAMers. We love everybody. … We think the DREAMers are terrific.”
Rallying in downtown Los Angeles, local immigrants, elected officials and labor leaders called on Trump to maintain the program that has helped an estimated 800,000 people avoid deportation.
“I’m here to say that the labor movement, the union movement stands side by side with our DACA young men and women,” said labor leaders Maria Elena Durazo. “… My message to Donald Trump is: Have a heart, show compassion. Have a backbone and show some courage. And have a brain and show some intelligence. Because you know what? We have all these reasons as to why the DACA program needs to be preserved and protected. He knows what those are.
We don’t want 800,000 people who have been vetted, who have applied, who have given all of their information to the government to now have to go underground,” she said. “That’s what Donald Trump wants? I say no to that.”
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, which organized the rally, has been holding events throughout the week in support of DACA, including a phone bank of people calling the White House in support of the program.
DACA is available to immigrants without criminal records who were brought to the country when they were younger than 16 years old. Work permits issued under DACA must be renewed every two years.
“The DREAMers and the DACA recipients are the embodiment of America’s promise — the idea of no matter where you’re from, no matter the color of your skin, no matter the god you worship, if you come here and you believe in America, you contribute to America, you actually make America a better place, that you deserve a place here in the United States of America.” said Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles.
–City News Service