Rallies and protests are planned across Southern California in response to the news Tuesday that the Trump administration will end a program protecting from deportation some 800,000 people who as children were brought to this country illegally by their parents.
At a morning event at which he took no questions, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement that many undocumented young people had long feared since Donald Trump's election win: the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created during the Obama administration is “being rescinded.”
Within hours of Sessions’ 8 a.m. PT comments, the advocacy group Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights gathered recipients and supporters of DACA outside the Edward Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles. Speakers called on Congress to act in response to Sessions’ announcement.
“We’re going to keep fighting. … This is our country,” said CHIRLA Executive Director Angelica Salas. “For 15 years, we’ve been fighting for the DREAM Act. For 15 years, we’ve been fighting for immigration reform. And what did Congress do? They did nothing … That’s why we have DACA.”
After the rally, Salas called President Donald Trump "cowardly" for sending Sessions to make the announcement in his place. Trump has repeatedly said he "loves" Dreamers but also promised during his campaign to end DACA.
Some recipients were in tears, including recent a Pasadena City College graduate Docnary Reyes, who doesn't remembering arriving in the U.S. from Guatemala at the age of 4. Reyes plans to attend UC Davis.
"Without DACA, I can't even work ... pay tuition," said Reyes, who wore her cap and gown to the rally. "It's very emotional, all of this. It's like we're taking two steps back."
Other events planned for Tuesday include the following. This list will be updated:
- Stop the Hate! Defend DACA, defend TPS!, a rally beginning at L.A. City Hall at 11:30 a.m. Organized by youth activist group Kids Over Politics and the union representing property service workers in California.
- National DACA Mobilization Day, at 5 p.m. at the historic Placita Olvera in downtown L.A. Hosted by nonprofit UndocuMedia.
- Defend DACA rally at 5 p.m. outside the Department of Homeland Security's field office in San Bernardino.
- Conejo Valley Rally to Defend DACA, 5:30 p.m. at Westlake and Thousand Oaks boulevards, organized by Indivisible Conejo.
- More Than Dreamers Rally, 7 p.m., San Fernando City Hall, promoted by Somos Familia Valle.
- CHIRLA also called for protests outside the district offices of Republican members of Congress, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in Bakersfield, Rep. Steve Knight in Santa Clarita, Rep. Mimi Walters in Irvine.
The Obama administration created DACA in 2012 in response to the failure of Congress to pass the DREAM Act. Sessions, then in the Senate, led Republican opposition to the legislation, which would have created a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
DACA allows so-called Dreamers who meet specific conditions to live in the U.S. legally and defer deportation, letting them “come out of the shadows.”
Californians account for more than a quarter of DACA recipients in the country, far more than any other state: 222,795 initial Dreamers who signed up and received approval, according to the latest federal government figures, which run through March 31. Nationwide, 787,580 people received approval for the program.