MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Outrage over President Trump’s decision to end a federal program that protects young undocumented immigrants sparked rallies that filled Twin Cities streets.
Protesters from two rallies converged in downtown Minneapolis in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
The program kept young immigrants who came to the country as children from being deported as long as they met certain criteria. It’s now scheduled to expire in six months.
However, President Trump did urge Congress to come up with a solution to preserve DACA’s protections.
From the streets outside Republican Party headquarters in the Seward neighborhood to the plaza neighboring the Federal Courthouse downtown, demands to keep DACA alive cried out across Minneapolis.
Immigration attorney Esteban Rivera watched as one of the rallies started right outside his office, but he didn’t need to be on the ground in order to hear their concerns.
“I have clients, tons of clients who have this benefit DACA, and they work at Boston Scientific, at Cargill, at Target and they are not going to be able to work when their work authorization card expires,” he said.
The fear of losing a job, the ability to attend school, or at worst be deported are what drove DACA recipients and their supporters to march more than a mile across downtown.
“Dreamers make America great,” chanted the crowd as they blocked the intersection of Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue. Drivers caught off guard by the human roadblock angrily turned around.
Minutes later the two protesting groups were united before settling in front of the Hennepin County Jail.
Their hope is Congress will come up with a solution to save DACA, but the clock on the six month deadline is ticking.
“I think it will be very difficult but I think it’s important that the voices of people are heard and I think people should protest should tell the importance of this program,” said Rivera.
Susana Gomez walk among the rally. She said she’s been a DACA recipient for four years.
“If I don’t have DACA I cannot work and I cannot support my family,” she said. “I want to be somebody here. I want to study for my son, for my family, and for me because I want to be somebody in the United States.”
Rivera is part of a group called the Volunteer Lawyers Network. Its organizing several sessions over the next month to help DACA recipients check their renewal status and file proper paperwork.