BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Heartbreak and worry as Marylanders march on Washington after President Donald Trump dismantles DACA.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday the president’s decision to rescind the program that grants work permits to people who came to the U.S. as children of undocumented immigrants.
“The Department of Homeland Security should begin an orderly, lawful wind-down, including the cancellation of the memo that authorize this program,” Sessions said. “If we are to further our goal of strengthening the constitutional order and the rule of law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this overreach.”
“Dreamers” have been protected by an Obama-era executive order implemented in 2012.
The moment the decision came down, it got quiet outside the White House, where hundreds of Marylanders joined a rally in support of DACA.
There were people in tears, along with those who were hugging their friends and family. Those protesters saying they are disappointed and worried, and now pinning their hopes on Congress.
“For many months, he [President Trump] had been telling us ‘I love the dreamers,’ you remember that? He told us ‘I have big heart for you dreamers.’ He’s a lair,” said CASA executive director Gustavo Torres.
“It’s like your world is destroyed,” said Monica Camacho-Perez of Baltimore. “You know your dreams, that freedom that we had. You know it’s like all crumbled down.”
“Am I gonna be sent back to El Salvador?” said 21-year-old Odaly Caceres, whose parents moved her to Prince George’s County at age 5. “I don’t know anything because I was raised in America. I’m an American.”
They continued their protest Tuesday afternoon, marching through Washington to immigration headquarters.
Following the announcement from the Trump Administration, 800,000 dreamers, people who came to the U.S. as children of undocumented immigrants, are effectively now losing their protections.
In Maryland alone, 10,000 to 12,000 people rely on work permits granted through the DACA program.
Trump says DACA will expire in six months unless Congress acts. For recipients who hold two-year work permits, their current permits will be allowed to expire and pending requests for new permits will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Applications already in the system will be processed, but applications for new work permits will not be accepted.
What comes next will fall on Congress to decide, with the White House sending a message to lawmakers. Essentially saying: If you support DACA, write new legislation.
There was an effort on Capitol Hill to protect the dreamers.
“They have no home country other than America. They’re no more connected to their home country than I am to Scotland, where my grandfather came from,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina.
“Some of them been here for 30 years, 20 years,” said one protester. “Some of them own houses. Some of them own businesses. Why are we going to deport these people? Why are we going to take away their status?”
“We were brought here, we didn’t have a choice. I was two years old, like how would I know,” dreamer Nayibi Vera-Flota said.
“We are not here to do anything bad. We are here to give to the economy, we are here to study, we are here to give back to this community and it’s so sad that they call us aliens?” dreamer Mariana Fahardo said.
Baltimore-based groups, like CASA de Maryland, say they will be organizing to fight the decision through the courts, and pressuring lawmakers.
Former President Barack Obama also reacted to the announcement.