More than 1,000 protesters hit the streets, marching from Trump International Hotel to Trump Tower in defense of a program that helps immigrant children avoid deportation. Ida Siegal reports.
More than 1,000 protesters hit the streets of New York on Wednesday, marching from Trump International Hotel to Trump Tower in defense of a program that helps immigrant children avoid deportation from the United States.
The march — which saw hundreds start gathering in Central Park around 5 p.m., and was still underway three hours later — was held in response to news reports that President Donald Trump is considering ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, said activist Javier Valdes, spokesman for Make the Road New York, an organization that helps Latino and working-class communities.
“There’s been a threat by President Trump that at any moment he might take this program away,” Valdes said.
“What we’re trying to say today is this program is lifeblood to the immigrant community, and touching it is an act of war against Latinos and immigrants in the United States,” he added.
Moving from one Trump building to another, the protesters raised their voices for undocumented immigrants, especially those who came to the United States as children and are recipients of the DACA program.
On Friday, NBC News reported that President Donald Trump appeared likely to pull the plug on DACA, the Obama-era program allowing young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children to remain here, according to several government officials.
Administration officials said acting Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke and Attorney General Jeff Sessions discussed the program with senior officials Thursday during a meeting at the White House.
Sessions has been a consistent opponent of the program.
Trump is said to be weighing whether to let DACA gradually expire or end it immediately.
Speaking at the march in New York Wednesday was Eliana Fernandez, 29, who arrived in New York as a 14-year-old. She got DACA in her 20s and said the program changed her life “dramatically,” allowing her to finally come out of the shadows.
“I have been able to attend school, graduate from college…it’s allowed me to get a better paying job that has allowed me to become a homeowner, and it’s allowed me to have emotional stability.”
She said the prospect of taking the DACA program away and sending “800,000 people back to the shadows” was an immoral thing to do.
“We’re not here by any fault of our own,” she said about child immigrants being brought to America.
“But I’m also so blessed my parents took that chance and came to the United States looking for a better future for us.”
New York City officials were also in attendance to stand up for the program.
City comptroller Scott Stringer proudly attended the march, posting on Twitter: “DACA has helped nearly 27,000 NYC #DREAMers have brighter futures. This is about right and wrong, & we will always #DefendDACA.”
Begun in 2012 under the Obama administration, the DACA program allows young people who arrived by 2007 to remain in the country if they were illegally brought by their parents to the U.S. before they were 16, have lived here since then, and have not committed serious crimes. Some also came here legally with their parents but then overstayed their visas.
Those eligible must renew their DACA status every two years.
More than 800,000 are now covered by the policy and can legally apply for work permits. Immigrant rights groups said 200,000 young people have sought DACA status since Trump became president.
The march was organized by immigrant and refugee advocacy umbrella organization the New York Immigration Coalition.
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