LOS ANGELES — City and county officials denounced the Trump administration’s decision Sept. 5 to end the immigration program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) during a rally outside the county Hall of Administration.
County Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti held a pep rally for disgruntled and angry members of local unions, students and others to make their voices of displeasure heard.
“When we invest in Dreamers, we invest in ourselves,” Garcetti said. “I’m too much of a father to even think about splitting parents from their kids. I guess I’m too pro-law enforcement to stop listening to police themselves say we shouldn’t be in the business of enforcing immigration. That is someone else’s responsibility.
“I guess I’m too pro-economy to say, ‘Oh, yeah, let’s do something that feeds a racist base instead of what is good for the American main streets. So, we’re going to keep being pro-economy, and we’re going to keep being pro-security, and we’re going to keep being pro-family because that is what America is about and it is reflected right here on these streets.”
U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, also criticized the Trump administration’s action.
“Trump’s emphatic lack of empathy continues to destroy our communities and stain our reputation abroad,” Bass said in a statement. “DREAMers aren’t just ‘other country’s kids.’ Especially in Los Angeles, they are students, teachers, coaches, mentors, entrepreneurs and community leaders from every continent.
“They’re from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. They’re friends and they’re family. I stand with DREAMers here in Los Angeles and throughout the entire country. We will make this right.”
Under DACA, children brought to the United States illegally by their parents have a temporary status to stay in the country. They are permitted to stay for three years once they get employment authorization documents, which does not give them the ability to stay permanently.
Once those three years expire, individuals have to renew their work permits to stay in the country, according to the DACA fact sheet.
Since it was created in 2012 by executive order of President Barack Obama, DACA has shielded more than 790,000 young people from possible deportation, according to the Pew Research Center. The research site also lists that there have been roughly 800,000 renewals of work permits since the program began to be implemented.
California (222,795) and Texas (124,300) lead the nation in DACA recipients. Mexican immigrants are the largest group to make up the DACA database, comprising of 78 percent of approved applications and renewals.
Los Angeles Community College District Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez sees the DACA announcement as an affront to the young people looking for a better life for themselves and their families.
“The message is very clear: we are hungry and thirsty for justice,” Rodriguez said. “Along with our colleagues who have spoken so clearly, so magnificently in the roles as elected officials, we too, call on Congress to do the right thing. Two-thirds of the American public support the DREAM Act, support DACA, support our undocumented students. So we call on our president and Congress to do the right thing.”
Hahn said she was sickened by the news coming out of the White House.
“This morning, as I was listening to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the car on the way here this morning, I felt sick to my stomach as he defended the decision to rescind these protections by claiming that this is the American thing to do,” Hahn said. “This is what our country was founded on. I do not buy that, and neither should you.
“To me, being an American, means showing compassion,” Hahn added. “To me, being an American, means embracing diversity as our strength. To me, being an American, means recognizing that the success of others is part of the tide that lifts all boats and is not a threat to anybody’s livelihood.”
The thought of DACA being washed away hit home for Hahn as she spoke highly of one of her staff members, who has DACA status.
“The DACA program was enacted the day he graduated from high school,” Hahn said. “And he considered it the best graduation gift he could asked for.”
Yamilex Rustrian, the daughter of a janitor and union member, noted that President Donald Trump didn’t step forward to personally present the plan to roll back DACA, but said she wasn’t afraid to go public with her own message.
“I have something to tell you, Donald Trump,” Rustrian said. “I will not be used as a bargaining chip.”