Immigration advocates in the Central Valley are joining protests against the decision by the Trump Administration to phase out DACA. About three dozen people rallied in Fresno on Tuesday, promising to fight.
Xavier Vasquez was 13 years old when he came to the U.S. illegally. Now, at 27 he is a college graduate and has just filed to renew his DACA status for the third time.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, allows Vasquez to legally work in the county and be spared from deportation.
Vasquez says today’s announcement does not mean he, or other dreamers, are just going to go away.
“It’s hard. Most of us came here when we were little. But we are adults now. We have a voice in what is going on in the country and locally. And that is what we want to stand for,” Vasquez says.
The Trump Administration says the program will wind down over the next six months unless congress acts to save it.
Vasquez says he is not hopeful congress will act even with the future of so many people on the line…
“It is a little scary that the president and the Department of Justice think by using us as a threat, not just to pass something but to fund a wall, that’s completely acceptable,” Vasquez says.
Multiple local, state, and national politicians from both parties in the Central Valley released statements opposing this decision and calling on congress to act swiftly to protect the dreamers.
There are an estimated 51,000 DACA eligible residents in the Central Valley.
Below are some statements from elected officials in response to the announcement:
Fresno Mayor Lee Brand
"I have consistently called for immigration reform, including joining my Council colleagues in December 2015 to unanimously support comprehensive immigration legislation, so I appreciate the fact that the President has given Congress a six-month window to act on this important issue.
“I would also ask Congress to immediately begin work on a bipartisan approach that provides a permanent solution to give children who were brought here by their parents the opportunity to become productive citizens, the same way most of our ancestors did when they came to this great country. America’s legacy is built on the hopes of immigrants, and our nation’s future depends on finding a full and fair resolution to our immigration issues"
California Senator Andy Vidak
"I have said for years that immigration reform, including protecting 'Dreamers,' should be done by Congress and the President working together. Through his actions today, President Trump has put the ball squarely in Congress's court.
"Hopefully both Republican and Democrat members of the Senate and House will put aside partisanship for the good of the country, get off their posteriors and enact comprehensive immigration reform."
California Senator Richardo Lara
“DACA allowed young people who grew up as Americans to finally pursue their educations and careers out of the shadows. The level of cruelty that President Trump has shown in ending the program is unconscionable, and he continues to pick on our most vulnerable like a bully. Ending DACA puts the futures of thousands of people in jeopardy who are going to school and working just as we asked them to.
“Trump, whose companies continue to import workers from abroad, is a cynical manipulator. Republicans’ unrelenting assault on immigrants and especially Latinos is awakening a generation of young Americans to the threat to our country’s diversity and economic future, just as Proposition 187 did in California more than 20 years ago."
Congressman Jeff Denham: CA district 19
"We should be dedicating our resources to securing our borders and deporting the violent criminals preying on our communities, not going after individuals who were brought to America as children through no fault of their own. The government asked these young men and women to come out of the shadows, and they have passed background checks, opened bank accounts, gotten jobs, enrolled in our universities – all positive contributions to our society and our economy. To target them now is wrong. We have several widely-supported immigration reform bills already introduced this Congress, in both the House and the Senate, that would address a path forward for DACA recipients. We must act immediately to pass these if we’re to meet the president’s six-month deadline."
Congressman Devin Nunes: CA District 22
“Under both of our previous two presidents, government leaders failed to solve the long-standing immigration challenges we face. I have repeatedly voted to ensure that people who were brought here as children wouldn’t be unfairly penalized for their parents’ actions. Hopefully Congress will act quickly not only to find a fair solution for these people, but also to enact fundamental immigration reform so that we will no longer face these sorts of problems.”
Congressman Jim Costa: CA district 16
“By terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, the Administration has taken a significant step backwards by threatening to force nearly 800,000 young immigrants from the country they call home. These DREAMers were brought to the United States as young children, and for them, America is their home. They are our neighbors – many of them are students – and they are contributing to our country. In the San Joaquin Valley, we have roughly 1,000 DREAMers attending Fresno State and approximately 600 attending UC Merced. Congress must pass legislation that provides our DREAMers protections similar to those under DACA before these protections are eliminated. I call on the House and Senate leadership to join me and others in a bipartisan effort to pass the BRIDGE Act, which will protect our DREAMers for the next three years."
Congressman David Valadao: CA district 21
"For years, Congress has failed to repair our broken immigration system. However, in light of the President’s announcement, Congress must come together within the next six months to reach a legislative solution.
I will continue to advocate on behalf of dreamers. America is the only home these young people know and I will do everything in my power to ensure those who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own are not unjustly punished."