Los Angeles politicians on Tuesday criticized the Trump administration's decision to scrap protections for young men and women in the United States without legal status and urged Congress to pass legislation to aid so-called "Dreamers."
Los Angles County supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti rallied downtown to join supporters of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The program, put in place by then-President Obama, shields those brought to the country illegally as children from being deported.
Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that the administration will phase out DACA beginning in six months, a move that pushes the issue to Congress.
Sessions' announcement marked "one of those dark days in our history," said Solis, whose district includes many immigrant communities, including El Monte and Boyle Heights.
Solis called on Republican leaders supportive of DACA to take action. "Now more than ever we need them. We need Sen. Lindsay Graham," she said.
Graham, of South Carolina, along with Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Dream Act in July to allow immigrant students a path to legal residence and eventual citizenship.
Garcetti talked about his grandfather, who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico as a baby.
"I couldn't be the mayor of this incredible city if I hadn't had the courage of a dreamer behind me in my family," Garcetti said.
A study by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute found one in every four DACA participants lives in California.
Sessions said that Obama's action in creating DACA went beyond his legal authority and was an "unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch."
Several Republican state attorneys general have also threatened to challenge the program in court.
Solis and Hahn planned to introduce a motion at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors' meeting to demand that Congress find a solution for DACA recipients and to urge state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to protect them.
The motion also would bar county employees from traveling to any of the nine states that have threatened to sue the Trump administration over DACA.
"They threatened legal action," Solis said. "Well, guess what we're going to say? We're going to say that the county of Los Angeles shouldn't do business [with those states]."
Hahn became emotional when describing one of her staffers who has benefited from DACA, calling him "just as American as I am. And he belongs here, with his family, with his friends, as much as I do."
Francia Cruz, a sociology student at East Los Angeles College, said she has been employed ever since enrolling in DACA in 2012.
"DACA has allowed me to come out of the shadows, where I hid for a long time because of fear and rejection," she said. "I refuse to go back into hiding under Trump's administration — under any administration, for that matter."
In Spanish, she urged those worried about the future of DACA to stay organized and to keep fighting.
"The community that is united will never be defeated," she said.