Thousands March to Protest Elimination of DACA

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

Thousands of immigration activists and supporters descended onto Federal Plaza late Tuesday afternoon to denounce the Trump administration’s decision to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “I am here to show solidarity to my fellow peers,” said Andrea Solis, who attended the rally. “We need to focus more on education than deportations.” DACA was introduced by President Obama in 2012 as an enforcement policy that temporarily deferred deportations for hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the United States as children. While never intended to be a permanent solution, DACA brought stability to the lives of so many, providing nearly 800,000 young people to date with the opportunity to live, work, drive, and participate openly in society without fear of apprehension and deportation from the only country they call home, including 42,000 in Illinois. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced its termination on Tuesday. Angelica Magana, who is undocumented, took the microphone at the plaza rally to call on Illinois Congress members to draft replacement legislation to protect current DACA recipients. “When DACA passed, it gave me an iota of hope. Now that has been taken away. We will not live in the shadows anymore,” Magana said to raucous applause.

With the rescission of the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA) initiative, there will be renewed pressure on Congress to pass federal legislation known as the Dream Act to protect young immigrants who are vulnerable to deportation. This fact sheet provides an overview of the Dream Act and other similar legislative proposals, explains changes made to DACA on September 5, 2017, and provides information about policies at the state level that support Dreamers. The group remained chanting outside ICE headquarters until about 8 p.m. Police officers blocked their potential path onto the nearby expressway, but relations seemed peaceful between protesters and police. The Trump administration has challenged Congress to pass a law by March 5, 2018, that would allow people protected under DACA to stay in the U.S. Later on Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he could “revisit” his decision. On Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for Governor Bruce Rauner to establish an Illinois Dreamer Bill of Rights. “President Trump’s decision to end DACA is not only harmful to these young people; it strikes a blow against our core American values and is an affront to basic human decency,” said Emanuel. “The United States is a nation of immigrants, not a country that tears families apart or deports children who have placed their faith in the promise of America. Not only will Chicago continue to welcome dreamers, we are calling on the State to do all it can to remain a welcoming place for the more than 40,000 DACA youth that live, work, and study in Illinois.”

Emanuel introduced a resolution, co-sponsored by Chairman Edward Burke, Clerk Anna Valencia, and the Latino Caucus, which calls on Rauner and the General Assembly to establish an Illinois Dreamers Bill of Rights. The bill would preserve protections for DACA recipients guaranteeing access to state financial aid and scholarships, professional licenses and certifications for jobs and additional protections against deportation. The Mayor’s resolution, presented at the Chicago City Council, calls on the Governor to enact the following to protect Dreamers:

Ensure that Dreamers can remain in their jobs:

In Illinois, Dreamers can become bar-certified attorneys but lack access to licenses and certifications in other fields such as health care, education, social work, and real estate. Governor Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly should change the law to allow Dreamers to enter additional professions and remain in those professions even after DACA expires.

Tighten protections in the newly-passed Illinois Trust Act:

Governor Rauner recently signed the Illinois Trust Act into law and established important protections for undocumented residents. The law prohibits local governments from detaining undocumented residents on behalf of ICE. At the same time, the Trust Act allows home rule municipalities to opt out of the law and permits governments to communicate with ICE about detained individuals prior to their release. Governor Rauner and the General Assembly should strengthen the Trust Act to prohibit any cooperation or communication with ICE when it comes to Dreamers and disallow any local governments from exempting themselves from these new Dreamer protections.

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