Community members gather to listen to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions make the announcement on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Photo by Andrea Jaramillo / Cronkite News

Cronkite News: President Trump ends program for children of undocumented immigrants

Trump rescinds DACA, gives Congress six months to take action

By Cronkite News Staff
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program constructed under the Obama Administration.

There are approximately 28,000 DACA recipients in Arizona.

DACA recipients, community members, and organizers gathered Tuesday at United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99 headquarters in central Phoenix to listen to the administration’s official announcement on DACA.

“I’m a little anxious,” said Francisco Luna, member of the non-profit group, Trans Queer Pueblo, and DACA holder since 2013. “What is my future going to look like? Do I put everything on hold?”

Sessions said there would be a wind-down process, where no new DACA applications would be accepted, to give Congress a chance to pass related legislation “should it so choose.” That period will last six months.

In a written statement released by the White House, Trump said he does not favor punishing children for the actions of their parents, but as a country, the people must recognize that the United States of America is a nation of opportunity because it is a nation of laws.

“The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws – this is the bedrock of our Constitutional system, which I took a solemn oath to preserve, protect, and defend,” Trump said in his written statement.

“Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

Arizona Sen. John McCain tweeted a statement calling the decision “the wrong approach to immigration policy.”

Abril Gallardo, 27, is an organizer with LUCHA who helped plan the demonstration outside of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Phoenix on Tuesday.

With DACA she was able to purchase a car, start working, and financially support herself. Now, she said all she can think about is the about the economic impact the removal of DACA will have on the recipients.

“I just felt like nothing good could come,” Gallardo said. “I think my first reaction was to laugh because what this administration is doing is a joke.”

She said she felt anxious, but seeing everyone supporting each other has given her hope. “For the people that are out there, we are going to continue to fight and we need them to unite and to join us. Together, we are going to be okay.”

State Rep. Isela Blanc (D-Tempe) also attended the demonstration at the ICE field office and said Sessions’ description of people like her during Tuesday’s announcement was emotionally devastating.

At one point, Blanc was undocumented herself.

Cronkite News Video: Protests at Phoenix ICE office after DACA rescinded

“I think the language was what struck me,” Blanc said. “It was really divisive, it was really negative towards immigrants, all immigrants.”

She brought up Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which helped created a pathway to citizenship.

“I’m a recipient of a Republican President’s vision of an America that was inclusive of immigrants,” Blanc said. “And here we are 30 years later.”

Luna with Trans Queer Pueblo said DACA allowed LGBTQ people to find a job, housing, and to live with their chosen family.

“When DACA came out, it gave a lot of us, like myself, the opportunity to come out of the closet and, if there were any consequences, that we would know that we would have something to back us up,” he said.

Cronkite News Video: Walk outs en protesta por revocación de DACA

Luna added the decision puts these people at risk and that one of the next steps is making sure his community is protected.

“Taking away DACA is, for many of us, a death sentence,” Luna said.

Meanwhile, Oscar Hernandez, a student at Arizona State University, said the announcement wasn’t really a surprise.

“I think we all knew that it was coming, especially this past week we sensed it,” he said. Like other members of the community, he said he’s angry about how Sessions described them.

He said DACA recipients try to do everything right, but they still can’t prove that they’re American or worthy enough.

“I’m mad because I think in every sense a DACA recipient is American; we’ve all been here a long time,” Hernandez said. “This is home. This is what I want to be calling home forever.”

Community members get ready to march toward the Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Phoenix after hearing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals announcement. Photo by Andrea Jaramillo / Cronkite News

Earlier this year, an appeals court overturned in-state tuition for DACA students in Arizona.

In addition, DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents was terminated.

In order to qualify for DACA status, one must be an undocumented immigrant who entered the country before the age of 16 – but couldn’t have been older than 30 when the program was implemented – must pass a background check and must have no criminal record. One must also either be in school currently, a high school graduate or G.E.D. equivalent or an honorably discharged military veteran.

The government has also required a renewal process every two years, with a $500 accompanying fee.

All hopefuls must complete an application on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website, but applicants say it is not an easy process to navigate.

More from Cronkite News:
THE FACES OF DACA (Photos and videos by Lysandra Marquez & Andrea Jaramillo Valencia)

Note: This article is published via a Creative Commons license. Cronkite News is produced by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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