A large crowd of pro-immigrant activists and politicians gathered Tuesday outside L.A. City Hall to send a message to the Texas judge who one day earlier ordered a stop to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
“Shame on you!” the protesters shouted in unison. “Shame on you!”
The group, which included U.S. Reps. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) and Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), vowed to fight federal Judge Andrew Hanen’s temporary injunction, which freezes a major expansion of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
An estimated 5 million immigrants in the country illegally would be eligible for temporary work permits and protection from deportation under the planned expansion.
Immigration officials were set to begin accepting applications for the first phase of the expansion Wednesday, but Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson put that on hold while the Department of Justice appeals the injunction.
After Obama announced that he was using his executive authority to protect millions of immigrants from the threat of being deported, Texas and 25 other states mostly controlled by Republican governors went to court to block its implementation. At the same time, Republican Congressional leaders have sought to defund the immigration programs in an attempt to stop them.
“We must get right in their faces on this,” Waters said of Republicans who have challenged Obama’s immigration plans. “We need them to understand that we’re in it for the long haul. We’re not giving up on these Dreamers. We’re not giving up on people who have given so much to this country.”
While supporters struck a defiant tone, some also expressed fears that Hanen’s ruling could slow the program's momentum and discourage immigrants who already harbored fears about the program from eventually applying.
“For those people who were on the fence, this could really push them back into the shadows,” said Martha Arevalo, executive director of the Central American Resource Center, which has screened hundreds of immigrants to see whether they are eligible for the new protections.
“This is a strategy by anti-immigrant groups to instill fear in our community,” Arevalo said. “It definitely makes it more difficult.”
She and other activists encouraged those eligible for protection to continue to prepare their applications, even though the future of the programs is unknown.
Although the exact requirements have not been released by the government, applicants for the first phase of the program expansion were expected to have to pay a fee of roughly $500 and prove they were brought to the United States before age 16 and have resided in the United States continuously for the last five years.
The roughly 4 million immigrants eligible for the second phase of the expansion -- which offers protections to the parents of U.S.-born children -- were expected to have to prove they are the parents of U.S. citizens.