With DACA Threatened, Immigrant Rights Group Mobilizes Defense

The DACA program has given work permits to more than three quarters of a million people, about 215-thousand living in California. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

LOS ANGELES – Immigrants’ rights groups are organizing a week-long series of rallies aimed at saving DACA, after reports surfaced that President Donald Trump will decide its fate this week.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has given work permits to more than 750,000 people. One in four of them, or about 215,000, lives in California.

Melody Klingenfuss, a California Dream Network statewide organizer for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of LA, came here at age nine from Venezuela, overstayed her visa and grew up to earn a master’s degree from USC.

She now heads the California Dream Network for CHIRLA.

“They’re really dealing with our lives here,” she states. “They gave us a chance and now making a decision that could change the entire course of our lives, of our education and what we have built up so far since we were brought to this country. It really would be unjust.”

Each day this week, CHIRLA is organizing phone banks and unfurling banner drops over freeways. It also is holding a vigil Wednesday night on Olvera Street and a lunchtime rally at the federal building on Friday.

Other groups are planning events in the Bay Area, the Sacramento region, and Orange County.

On Friday August 25th, the president pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio from Arizona, who had been convicted on charges he refused to obey a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. The pardon came just three days after tens of thousands of people protested outside Trump’s campaign-style rally in Phoenix.

Klingenfuss says her biggest worry is that the president will not only kill the DACA program – he could hand the dreamers’ names and addresses over to federal agents and ramp up deportation raids.

“It really goes to show the type of administration that we’re going through where it’s basically a roller coaster that has no regard with the facts,” she states. “We really need to rise up and keep defending our immigrant communities because he is not on our side.”

DACA was created in 2012 by an executive order from President Barack Obama. Now, a group of 12 state attorneys general is forcing Trump’s hand by threatening to sue if he doesn’t rescind DACA by Sept. 5. In that case, the Justice Department would have to decide whether to defend the program.