Photos: Hundreds Rally In Support Of DACA Protections In Downtown Los Angeles
As the country and its nearly 800,000 DACA-recipients await President Trump's final decision on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, hundreds of Angelenos rallied in support of the protections in downtown Los Angeles on Friday morning.
The future of the program and the fate of the DREAM-ers (as participants are known) has hung precariously in the balance since President Trump was elected in November. The program has provided work authorization and deportation relief for more than 750,000 young immigrants since 2012, when it was implemented through an executive order by then-President Barack Obama.
Trump had pledged to "immediately" end the program while on the campaign trail, but he changed his tune slightly not long after taking office, saying that DREAM-ers "shouldn't be very worried" because he was "looking at it with great heart." Hundreds of thousands of young undocumented Americans have lived the past ten months under a grave cloud of uncertainty, unsure of whether they would soon no longer be able to work legally in this country, or lose protection from deportation. California leads the nation in DACA recipients; more than a quarter of all DACA beneficiaries call the state home. Activists across the nation have led actions in support of the program in recent days ahead of the forthcoming decision from the White House, with a week of actions held in Los Angeles that culminated in this morning's rally. The White House announced Friday afternoon that the president's final decision on DACA would be relayed this coming Tuesday.
"It just feels like my heart is breaking," Dana Herrera, a 23-year-old DACA beneficiary told LAist on Friday. "With DACA, I've been able to work and go to school," Herrera said. Herrera, who works as a salesperson while also attending school, is originally from Mexicali, Mexico. She came to the United States from Mexico as a small child.
"L.A. feels like home," she added.
Felix Schein told LAist that he had given all 50 employees at Rally, the issue advocacy firm he runs, the day off to attend Friday's event. "I thought it was important to be here. I'm an employer of two DACA recipients," Schein, 40, said.
Saira Barajas, another young DACA recipient at Friday's rally, described the excitement she felt in 2012, when the program was first implemented. The 25-year-old Sherman Oaks resident applied for and received DACA protections that same year.
"I felt excited because I had just gotten out of high school. It meant opportunities for me," said Barajas, who moved to Los Angeles from Mexico City when she was eight years old. She also spoke of the anxiety of the past few months, amid the tenuous future of her protected status, and continued ability to legally work in the United States. "It has definitely put a lot of stress on me, which affects my daily, normal life," she said.
"I'm here because I'm a DACA beneficiary. It's important that we come out and support each other during hard times," Norberto Lopez, 23, told LAist at the rally. "When people say 'I wish I lived back then to make a difference,' well, this is your time to make a difference now."