Washington, Aug 15 (EFE).- Amid shouts and slogans, thousands of activists and “Dreamers” demonstrated Tuesday in dozens of US cities to urge President Donald Trump to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program alive on its fifth anniversary.
“We’re working people, we didn’t come here to rob anyone. The only thing we want is dignity,” Guatemalan-born Cindy Monje told EFE at a protest in front of the White House.
The DACA program has protected some 800,000 young undocumented migrants from deportation since it was implemented by former President Barack Obama.
Under a persistent rain in the US capital with about 500 other demonstrators, Monje said that “without DACA, I would earn less than the minimum wage, which is just over $7 per hour.”
“I worked a long time as a waitress and they paid me two or three dollars (per hour). I lived on tips,” she added.
The program, which provided temporary protection to young foreigners who arrived without papers in this country as children – people who are known as “Dreamers” – was launched by Obama via an executive order he signed in August 2012.
Similar marches were held on Tuesday in San Francisco, Phoenix, New York and Chicago with the common aim of demanding that Trump and congressional Republicans keep the DACA program in place and defending the results it has had and the economic contribution made by the people who have benefitted from it.
With Trump’s presidential win in 2016 and his hardline rhetoric on illegal immigration, the Dreamers have seen storm clouds gathering over their future.
Despite the fact that Trump has promised to deal with the DACA issue “with heart” and recognized that it is one of the “most difficult” problems he faces as president, what is certain is that the more conservative sectors of the GOP have set a deadline by which the president must make a decision.
Monje, a public policy student at Maryland’s Montgomery College, criticized Republican lawmakers for “attacking the most vulnerable, the immigrants” and urged Trump not to cancel DACA because “it works.”
She made reference to the warning by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who sent a letter to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions weeks ago in which he said he would sue the federal government if it did not eliminate the program before Sept. 5.
The missive was also signed by nine other Republican state attorneys general and by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, increasing the pressure on Trump.
Given the inability of Congress to agree on comprehensive immigration reform in 2012 to resolve the status of some 11 million undocumented migrants living in the US, Obama implemented DACA designed to help many of the young people illegally brought to this country by their parents.