WASHINGTON – Several hundred young undocumented migrants took part in a march on Thursday in Washington to demand a path to citizenship before year’s end.
The demonstrators are potential beneficiaries of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, a bill that has been introduced to Congress in numerous versions over the past 16 years in an effort to provide a path to citizenship for individuals who were brought into the US unlawfully before the age of 16.
The DREAMers’ protest comes just weeks after President Donald Trump announced he would begin phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which then-head of state Barack Obama created in 2012 to shield more than 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Marching under the slogan “undocumented and unafraid,” hundreds of demonstrators from 20 different states made their way to the US Capitol building.
“The community is fed up and the American people are fed up with the administration making stupid decisions and putting DREAMers at risk of deportation,” the regional field director for the immigrant youth-led organization United We Dream, Ricardo Campos, told EFE.
Campos urged Democratic and Republican lawmakers to work together to craft a “clean bill” that provides a permanent solution and does not put the lives of affected families at risk.
In announcing the end to the DACA program in September, Trump said Obama’s executive order was unlawful and unconstitutional and that he was providing a six-month window for Congress to enact a legislative solution
More than 7,900 DACA recipients have likely already lost their protection from deportation and work authorization because they have been unable to renew their DACA permits as a result of the decision to end the program, according to a new study by the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based progressive think tank.
To qualify for the DACA program, beneficiaries not only had to show proof they were under the age of 16 at the time they first entered the US but also meet a series of other requirements, including passing criminal background checks.