As the Trump administration announced it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the scene outside the White House on Tuesday was boisterous, angry but also hopeful as DACA participants and supporters declared their intent to fight for the program.
About 250 protesters holding red white and blue balloons, American flags and signs reading “Defend Dreamers,” marched from the White House to the Department of Justice, where Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions made the announcement, then to the U.S. Immigration and Enforcement Office.
They chanted phrases such as “Up, up with education; down, down with deportation” and “Shame on you, Donald Trump.”
“We’re not going to fold our arms, we’re going to stand up and fight,” said Jesus Perez, who came to the U.S. from Mexico with his parents when he was 5. Perez, 25, a research assistant at Johns Hopkins University, was involved in the initial movement for DACA with former President Obama.
Immigration advocacy and assistance organization CASA partnered with several local groups, including Unite Here and property service workers union SEIU 32BJ, to host the protest. “Clearly people were very anxious awaiting the president’s announcement,” said Elizabeth Alex, an organizer with CASA. “People are not happy. People are going to continue this fight.”
“We’re not going to let him take DACA from us,” said Eliseo Magos, 23, a DACA participant originally from Mexico who was carrying a bundle of balloons as he marched.
CASA and other local organizations were joined by groups from around the country, including HOLA from Cleveland, whose members wore matching yellow shirts, and Make the Road Pennsylvania, whose marchers carried red flags reading “Sin Miedo,” meaning “Without fear.”
Carlos Esteban Arellano, 31, who was born in Mexico, said he hoped the protest would help people “see the face of DACA” as hard-working immigrants who want to help others and the United States. “This is my home. My home is not the place I was born,” Arellano said. “I hope they hear our voice.”